By Lin Wenjian, Relatively Speaking
Singer-actress Rahimah Rahim, 54, does not want her daughters, legal secretary Nur Hida Pearl, 32, and Amalyn Aisha, 15, to follow her into showbiz.
With a cheeky glint in her eyes, she says: 'You must have talent and my daughters don't. Pearl can still sing karaoke but Amalyn is totally out of tune.'
The bond that she has with her daughters is palpable, never mind that 17 years separate the two sisters and they were born to different fathers.
Pearl's father is former national footballer Mohamed Noh Hussein, now 56, whom Rahimah divorced in 1988. Amalyn was born in 1995, one year after she married Remy Taib, 53, an assistant manager in a Japanese securities firm. She lives with her husband and Amalyn in an HDB flat in Bishan, while Pearl lives with her father, husband and three children in a flat in Hougang.
The vivacious Rahimah, who will be performing at a concert held in aid of the Association of Women for Action and Research next month, says that she and her ex-husband have remained good friends. And her past and present husbands meet regularly when she goes to visit Pearl's children.
'We don't bear any grudges,' she says simply.
What are you like as a mother, Rahimah?
Rahimah: I am very protective of my daughters. When Pearl was a teenager, I would keep the main door open until she got home. And now, if Amalyn is not home from school by 7pm, I get very worried.
Pearl: She would not sleep until I got back. And I always had curfews. The latest was 1.30am, but that was only when I was engaged to my husband.
Amalyn: My mother is always fun to be with. She knows when to discipline us and when to joke. Although she does not ask me to SMS her about my daily whereabouts, I still do that because I feel that is the right thing to do.
Have you ever lost your temper with your daughters?
Rahimah: Once, when Amalyn was one or two years old, she refused to eat her cereal and would not stop crying. So I poured the whole bowl of cereal over her head and asked her father to take care of her. (Laughs)
Amalyn: Her bark is worse than her bite.
How does it feel to have a celebrity for a mother?
Pearl: I always feel proud when people come up to me to say they know my mother.
Amalyn: I do not want people to befriend me because my mother is famous. So when people in school ask me, 'Is your mother really a celebrity?' I will just try to ignore them.
Rahimah: When Amalyn began secondary school three years ago, she told me that she did not want me to go to her school because she did not want her schoolmates to know who I am.
But two years ago, I performed at a fund-raising concert for the school at the principal's invitation, so now everyone in her school knows I am her mother.
Ever thought of becoming a singer and actress like your mother?
Pearl: I used to. But after seeing the criticism she has received and the struggles she has gone through, not anymore.
Amalyn: No. I feel awkward in front of cameras. Last year, I acted in an episode of Channel 5 sitcom First Class and I felt like a robot because the director was the one who told me what to do.
Pearl and Amalyn, are you close to each other?
Pearl: I had always wanted a younger sibling. I was an only child for 17 years and it was boring to have all the attention on me for so long. So I was very happy to finally have a playmate when my sister was born. I was more than willing to take care of her and was never ever jealous of the attention she got.
Amalyn: It is fun to be with my sister. I go out with her and my brother-in-law for movies and other outings. My cousins and I also like to listen to my sister's stories over coffee. These are the times I can go out late without getting nagged at by my mother.
Rahimah: As a mother, I make sure they are sisters. In my vocabulary, there is no such thing as half-sisters.
If the parent-child roles were reversed, would you do anything differently?
Rahimah: If I were Pearl, I would have studied until I got to wear the graduate's hat.
Pearl: I would not change anything except for the times when my mother used to ask me many questions when I went on dates with my boyfriend, now my husband.
Amalyn: Maybe I would spend more time with my children. But I am also happy that my mother has her own friends whom she can spend time with.
This article was first published in The Straits Times.
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