“Miss You, Mom”

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MALAYSIA | PHOTOGRAPHY


Photographs by Ahmad Yusni
Words by Onin Lorente

Published on February 9, 2021

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Through memories and photographs, Ahmad Yusni imparts his emotions to LINEAL and pays tribute to her mom, Mak Aminah.

Sometime last year in a town in Penang, a story of love and courage took place. “I may have lost you here, but I know you are somewhere, better in another life. I wish you all the happiness you deserve. I really miss you, mom, ” concludes Ahmad Yusni in an e-mail interview.

In over twenty years of photography works — started in 1995 for a local newspaper in Malaysia — Yusni has covered historical events in his home country and in the world: from the disastrous tsunami in Indonesia in 2004, the Olympics in Beijing in 2008, the anti government demonstrations in Thailand in 2010, the Malaysia Airlines MH370 tragedy in 2014, to the on-going coronavirus pandemic .

It is the same reportorial background that prompted him to account the journey of his mother. “I wasn’t really keen on photographing my mom when she was diagnosed with cancer in 2020,” Yusni recalls. “In 2013, I photographed my brother who had cancer and died 39 days after being diagnosed. I expected my brother to survive, but he did not. My journalistic instinct drove me to photograph my mom even with just my smartphone.”

During his mom’s radiotherapy sessions, Yusni, who is based in Kuala Lumpur, visited her regularly in their hometown in Perak, Penang. He captured moments rendered in dramatic black and white. Combined with early pictures from 2008 and onwards, the set shows a special bond between Yusni and his mom. “Perhaps my mom knew I was born to be a photographer. She was very comfortable with the clicking sound of my camera, and did her own things naturally. It was some kind of willingness from her to me all the time,” says the photographer ‘and son’.

Here, in his own words, Yusni further conveys his emotions behind those photographs.

I really honour her courage. She lost three of her loved ones: my father and my two brothers in three consecutive years. Despite being alone, she remained strong.

I really miss a lot of her cooking, especially during the festive (Eid) season. Really, really missed it. No words to describe it. And I know that moment won’t return to me. I am glad that I have done my best to make her happy, and she understood me.

She loved cats. She had a lot of cats inside and outside the house. The cats recognised her. She was willing to spend money to buy fish and cook for them. And it was always her priority every day.

She also loved fishing at the stream when we were back in our village in Perak.
She was a good businesswoman and she worked hard all her life for that.
Mom never believed in scolding her children.

One of the most beautiful memories of me and my mom was when my mom chose me to accompany her to perform ‘Umrah’ (mini Haj) in Mecca. As a Muslim, I felt that it was an honour to be there especially with my own mother.

In Mecca, I was tested by God when I lost sight of her for quite a while as she was nowhere to be seen among the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims. I thought I’d lost her, but God united us again; but this time, I lost her forever.

I really hope my story will inspire people who still have their mom whom they should appreciate while they are still around.

I wish I could tell her I love her and I really miss her and share jokes with her and to see her smile at me. Of course, how I wish I could persuade her to cook my favourite food for me.

Thank you, mom, for all that you have done for me.

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