The power of words

By Danielle Sendou Ringgit
[email protected]
@danitbpseeds

Canadian born author Manly P Hall once quoted, “Words are potent weapons for all causes, good or bad.”

Children’s author and writer Mahaya Mohd Yassin from Negeri Sembilan might have seconded that.

 Writer Mahaya Mohd. Yassin

Writer Mahaya Mohd. Yassin

“As a writer and as a human being, your words are your weapon,” said Mahaya earnestly.

“Words are very important because it comes from your heart,”said the gentle and soft spoken 68-year-old.

With the aim of celebrating the joy of reading among children, Mahaya was one of 23 children’s books writers, illustrators and storytellers present during the second edition of Pustaka-Bookaroo Children’s Literature Festival  held from April 16th to 17th.

Mahaya, who is also president of Persatuan Penulis Negeri Sembilan (PEN), believes choosing appropriate words is vital in implementing good values in every individual, especially children.

Mahaya was one of the writer present during the second edition of Pustaka-Bookaroo Children's Literature Festival

Mahaya was one of the writers present during the second edition of Pustaka-Bookaroo Children’s Literature Festival. She was conducting a poetry workshop for children.

“With all the features that God has given us such as our mouths, ears and all our senses; we make full use of it, but if we misuse it, for sure you will get back what you have spread,” she said.

Emphasising and introducing good values in her books, Mahaya said that conversing in a gentle manner will lead children to adopt the same nature while talking to them in brusque language will later have them mirror the attitude.

“I started writing since 1964 when I was in Form 4. I remembered writing poems and submitting them to Berita Harian to be published. And when I got married, my husband too was a writer,” said Mahaya when meeting the Borneo Post SEEDS at Pustaka Negeri Sarawak.

“We wrote books, poems and picture books which were all dedicated to our children,” said the mother of four and grandmother to nine, on how she got inspired to write.

“The other reason that got me into writing were my parents,” added Mahaya.

“My mother was illiterate. I came from a very poor family in a kampong with paddy fields and a rubber tapping garden,” recalled Mahaya of her childhood memories.

“Back then, we would tap rubber and harvest paddy. She would make stories, sing or recite poems about it. The time flew smoothly and before we knew it, the chores were completed without us noticing,” said Mahaya.

“So that was how my parents raised me, by encouraging us to work together with them instead of just instructing us to do the work while they did something else.”

Mahaya singing and reciting her poem 'Menumbuk Padi' with the children during her workshop. The poem was based on her experience of harvesting paddy when she was young

Mahaya singing and reciting her poem ‘Menumbuk Padi’ with the children during her workshop. The poem was based on her childhood experience harvesting paddy.

“My mother was very soft spoken and I had never heard her shout or scream at my father, but instead use gentle words with us,”she said.

Believing in setting a good example to children through poems, Mahaya believes that they will grow from adolescents into adults that can shape a prosperous nation.

“When you recite poems, the wording rhymes smoothly and it moves like waves…very touching. I can’t exactly describe it,” said Mahaya who believes that the rhythm of the words can penetrate its listener or reader and embed values within them.

Among the works by Mahaya

Some of Mahaya’s work.

In her poems, Mahaya would always emphasise on being positive and loving towards each other no matter who they are.

“Be positive no matter whether you are in a bad situation, and love each other,” advised Mahaya.

With an exceptional experience of 34 years in teaching and 20 in training teachers, Mahaya’s repertoire of work includes poems, short stories, picture books, memoirs and reviews.

One of her latest book, 'Pelangi Pagi'

One of her latest books, ‘Pelangi Pagi’

Mahaya has launched three new children’s books this year titled ‘Negaraku’, ‘Pelangi Pagi’ and ‘Si Lobak Bunga’.

When asked when she found was the best place and time to write, Mahaya said the best answer would be anywhere, everywhere, anytime, every time.

“There is no limit to us to write. There is always paper anywhere, on the table, in my notebook. Time is so precious and it does not wait for you,” she said.

Currently, Mahaya is still actively teaching literature classes – ‘Seni Bebahasa’ – at Jabatan Kebudayaaan at her hometown every Saturday.

To know more about Mahaya’s work, check out her facebookpage at https://www.facebook.com/mahayamy/?fref=ts

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