Short Story - Che Husna Azhari in Mariah

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Che Husna Azhari in her short story “Mariah” manages to capture most of the parameters identified above in depicting the sexuality of a religious leader, Tok Imam, who falls for the charms of a widow whom he eventually takes as his second wife. The story centers on the attractions of “the mesmerizing nasi seller, Mariah, whose overt sexuality, defined by her unmarried status (she is a widow, therefore drawing upon the reader’s knowledge and expectations of the experienced woman who is available
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  Che Husna Azhari in her short story “Mariah” manages to capture most of the parameters identified above in depicting the sexuality of a religious leader, Tok Imam, who falls for the charms of a widowwhom he eventually takes as his second wife. The story centers on the attractions of “the mesmerizing nasi seller, Mariah, whose overt sexuality, defined by her unmarried status (she is a widow, therefore drawing upon the reader’s knowledge and expectations of the experienced woman who is available and most probably in need of companionship and physical contact), and the pull of  her attraction to all the men of the kampung (including the Imam) due to her sensuous “swayinghips” as well as her acknowledged skill at preparing the ‘ nasi belauk  ’”(Che Yam). The stor y addresses conceptions of both Muslim masculinity (through the Imam’s sexuality and polygamous tendencies)and femininity (through the Imam’s barren wife and Mariah’s sexualized status as a widow or  janda ). 5 Mariah is seen as a symbol of Malay femininity while the Imam represents Malay masculinity. The presence of the Tok Imam’s masculinity and Mariah’s femininity suggest the implicit power of religious man and simultaneously may be interpreted as the superiority of Muslim men ingeneral over Muslim women. This kind of femininity and masculinity shapes the national Islamic identity of the Malays. The Malay men’s ownership of multiple wives asserts men’s degree of  masculinity (Omar 107-120). This Malay-Islam equation has led to not a few competing discourses onthe definition of Malay Islamic national identity.  Mariah is widower who sells her 'Nasi Berlauk' at her stall in order to survive herself and beingadmired. This Che Husna Azhari artwork is about polygamy issue within Pak Imam, which i canconsider him as a big character besides Mariah. Pak Imam already have a wife, Cik Yam, who is aloyal wife and being the icon of other woman with full package in her own. After Pak Imam haddiscussed with her about his intention to have another marriage with Mariah, Cik Yam felt upset anddo not agree on the time. But because she loves his husband so much, he agreed to let Pak Imam toget married. What a loyal wife Cik Yam is. As for Pak Imam, even though he is known as Imam andrespected by the whole villagers, but he is still just an ordinary person that cannot being separate byother human being by behave like he is (want to get married with Mariah although he already have CikYam as his wife). But, what i respect Pak imam is about his responsibility towards Cik Yam. He domentioned that although he got married to Mariah, but he will never neglected Cik Yam at all. This isbecause, both of them already get through both of their life well and share all the hardship occuredwithin them. This should be example for those who have intention to get married more than one, to beloyal and fair when it talk about polygamy because it is a serious issue of life   Che Husna Azhari‟s short story “Mariah” is described about a young widow sells various rice dishes each morning after the subuh prayers in a little village Kelantan.Most of themen in the village (married or not) linger in the market square and wait for Mariah tocome with her rice. The Imam has been persuaded by a friend to try some of Mariah'scooking. And that day, he does not come home to eat the delicious rice his wife has prepared for him. It‟s about a story of love, desire and the will of Allah. In this story,there's like a tradition among Malay culture which connote that a widow or „janda‟ is commonly described as a bad woman who‟s going to snatch someone else‟s husband. In this story,Mariah, a nasi seller in the small village town of Molo has beendesired by almost all the men in sexuality way due to her status; a widow or janda.  Her nasi was not that great comp ared to the wife of Tok Imam,Cik Yam‟s nasi berlauk but regarding her widow status together with her swaying hips and pleasant smile,Mariah has being the talks among the men in that village. The negative connotation is actually from the women folks‟ poin t of view. Thehousewives turned out to be very pissed off since their husband were dying to havebreakfast at Kedai Merpati owned by Mariah, instead of having them at their ownhouses.The perception would turn out fine IF the men having the breakfast at the not-widow-eating-stall. In fact, the womenfolk might be happy to see their husbands get together in the morning after sending the children to the school, so that it won‟t be a burden for them to prepare the breakfast since they got other chores to do like cleaning and washing. But, in this case,the men have their breakfast at a WIDOW‟S stall! This is an unacceptable issue to be handle by the womenfolk. In Malay culture, awidow is always described as a hunger woman of sexual need or appeal since she hasbeen married before. Mariah is a widow, therefore drawing upon the reader‟s knowledge and expectations of  the experienced woman who is available and most probably in need of companionshipand physical contact .So, while the husband is not around anymore, the widow turned out to look for someone else and this issue always related to somebody else‟s husband. In this story, Cikgu Nab felt that Mariah is a threat to her since Cikgu Leh love to have Mariah‟s nasi berlauk (even though, the exact reason of Cikgu Leh enjoyed the nasi is because of Cikgu Nab‟s poor cooking skills). Cikgu Nab also sent threatening messages to Mariah. This is showed that how the marital status playing the role of making aperception in a particular community. The negative perceptions are clearly being showed by Cikgu Nab by the way she convinced Cik Yam about Mariah‟s bad characters.   “ But why do all these men seem hell bent on eating breakfast at her place? I reckon, I mean we reckon she has put “something” (Cik Gu Nab put heavy empha sis on the word something) in her nasi. ” -Mariah,Che Husna Azhari. Cikgu Nab dare to say bad things about Mariah even though it weren‟t true. This happens to be like a pre-reaction of an envy wife who hate widow that try to mess upwith her husband. In „Mariah‟, it clearly showed that the status is tend to make people to come up with an assumption about others and slightly gave them the license to have the general thought on any particular status or title.For instance, widow or „janda‟ is commonly described as a bad, hunger of sex woman.On the other hand, Tok Imam is usuallydescribed as a guardian of modesty and propriety and enforcer of stringent mores.  
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