(kindly brought to our attention by Helen Livesey-Jones)

Reunited after 50 years

Star, Malaysia

16 May. 2006  

THEIR romance began at the Malayan Teachers Training College in Kirkby, Liverpool.

They met in 1954, fell in love and were all set to get married after graduation, but the love affair of Syed Abu Bakar Syed Akil Shahabuddin and Siti Rohani Ismail was not to be.

Syed Abu Bakar, who was one year senior to her, graduated and returned to Malaya first.

He was greeted by the shocking news that his mother was suffering from breast cancer and her last wish was to see him married before she died.

“It was practically a deathbed wish. How could I refuse her?” Syed, now 71, recalls.

His mother had already chosen a bride for him, Sharifah Fawziah, and being a filial son, he had to fulfil her wish.

When he informed Siti, still in Kirkby at that time, all he received in return was a simple telegram saying, “Congratula-tions.”

Recalls, Siti, now 71: “We just tak ada jodoh at that time. There was no point in fighting. It was a lose-lose situation and it would have broken up the families. Even if we had pursued the matter, our marriage wouldn’t have been happy.”

As pragmatic as her reasoning was, Siti admits, “I nearly lost my mind back then.”

There were times when she lost track of where she was going and even ended up in a fellow student’s room, thinking it was her own!

Although Syed wrote a couple of letters to her, she did not bother replying them.

“There wasn’t any point, and it was just better to make a clean break,” she says.

Both Syed and Siti moved on with their lives and had happy marriages, each blessed with four children.

Both of them outlived their spouses. Sharifah died about 12 years ago, while Siti’s first husband, Datuk Adnan Abdullah passed away a few years ago.

It was Adnan’s death that brought them together again after nearly 50 years.

“I read in the newspaper that her husband had passed away; so I called and offered my condolences,” Syed says.

“Then we met again at a Kirkby reunion.”

Adds Siti: “We didn’t even recognise each other – after all, nearly 50 years had passed since we had last seen each other – one of our friends had to ‘reintroduce’ us.”

From there, “things developed” as Syed describes it, and they decided to get married two years ago.

As Siti says: “Although I never thought of getting remarried, I’m very glad to have found him (Syed) again. It’s fortunate to be able to live your old age with someone you love from your youth.”


Siti Rohani Ismail is listed in www.kirkbyites.net

Alumni List 1954-1956

Tuan Syed Abu Bakar bin Syed Akil Sahabuddin is listed in www.kirkbyites.net

Alumni List 1953-1955