Celebrating a centenarian

Rokiah Mahmud

Stay healthy and at the same time enjoy a happy and positive life – this is one of the key secrets imparted by Hajah Norhani binti Abdullah, who recently celebrated her 100th birthday.

Hajah Norhani celebrated the occasion with a birthday gathering hosted by her family and friends in Kuala Belait. The celebration was also held to express gratitude to Allah the Almighty for granting her a long and healthy life.

Born in Sarikei, Sarawak, Hajah Norhani is a mix of Chinese and Malay. She went to a Chinese school for her formal education for two years.

She often followed her parents to Brunei for business purposes. Her parents often traded copper (tembaga) for daily necessities and also sold the items in her village.

It was after she married Haji Mohiddin bin Haji Kadir that she resided permanently in the sultanate. As her husband worked as a customs officer, they would often move. Speaking to the Bulletin about what it was like living in the 1920s, 1930s and even during the Japanese occupation era, Hajah Norhani said that she could not remember some of the events.

Hajah Norhani binti Abdullah with some of her old photos. PHOTOS: BAHYIAH BAKIR
Hajah Norhani during the birthday celebration

However, when she is by herself, she sometimes remembers her childhood, how she met her husband, how life was back then as well as the place that she used to live in Kampong Sumbiling.

“At this age, I tend to forget. But when I am alone, sometimes they come back.” She first met her husband while she was living in Kampong Sumbiling. “He passed away seven years ago, but I still cherish our memories.”

For her daily routine, Hajah Norhani wakes up early to perform her Subuh prayer.

She drinks her hot coffee, without sugar, before having some local kuih for breakfast.

Alhamdulillah, Allah the Almighty blessed me with long-life. Now I only want to dedicate my time to peform my prayers and thank Allah the Almighty for what has been given to me,” she added.

Despite having knee problems, Hajah Norhani said that she does not have any other illnesses.

“I was diagnosed with diabetes and suffered for eight years. But, the elders advised me to eat local vegetables (ulam) to cure my illnesses,” she said.

“I avoid consuming oily or fatty food. I do not eat chicken or beef. My daily diet consist mostly of fruits and vegetables.”

Using a wheelchair, Hajah Norhani goes to the market or shopping mall with her grandson every week.

Hajah Norhani also spoke of her experience during the Japanese occupation era in Brunei. Food was scarce during that time as rice was seized from villagers.

“Thankfully I am not a picky eater. I just ate whatever food available, including ambuyat and tapioca. For our family, having those two food was a blessing,” she said.

With regard to her birthday, she felt blessed that she was able to celebrate it with her family and friends. “I did not know they would remember my birthday.

“I love them so much and Alhamdulillah most of them are here to celebrate with me.”