The Story Behind That Viral Photo Of A Young Lady Shielding A Senior Citizen

The beautiful photo was widely shared by Malaysians in the last few days.

Cover image via Jason Quah/TODAY

A young woman in hijab and an elderly woman have risen to prominence in the past few days after a photo of them went viral on social media

The lady, identified as Sakinah Rafiq Tan Hui Ling, was using her hijab as a makeshift umbrella for her 78-year-old grandmother, Annie Loh.

The heartwarming photo brought smiles to many people and sparked a conversation about racial harmony.

While many initially mistook Sakinah for a Malaysian, it was later made known that Sakinah is, in fact, a Singaporean.

The photo was taken by Jason Quah, a Singaporean photographer, and it was first uploaded on Today's Instagram account on Tuesday, 26 July.

One Facebook user named Saiful Bahari Baharom had reuploaded the photo with the caption 'I love this photo.' and the post has received more than 28,000 likes and 10,000 shares so far

After realising that her photo with her grandmother went viral, Sakinah has taken to her blog to express her feelings about the incident

"I'll just say I feel a bit exposed and violated," she wrote.

She explained that she is not a person who knows exactly how to deal with being in the limelight and struggled to respond to the recognition she gained.

Sakinah, who calls her grandmother 'Nainai' (grandmother in Mandarin), was disheartened to find out that some people feel like they "have the right to decide" whether or not the elderly woman in question is her grandmother or some random "Chinese lady".

On top of that, netizens began to throw insensitive remarks at her, judging Sakinah based on the photo. Some of them questioned her intentions and accused her of "posing" for the camera.

The 23-year-old went on to explain what had transpired on the day the photo was taken

"On that fateful rainy day, I was sending my Nainai to the clinic and having breakfast with her instead of my mother because I wanted to lighten my mother's burden of travelling on her injured leg, and I honestly just missed my Nainai," she wrote on her blog.

"Mr Jason Quah was under the block with his professional lens and camera, seeking shelter from the freshly-subsiding rain, when he happened to catch an eye of my Nainai and I alighting from the cab. And that's the truth and history of the current Hijabrella meme."

In the same blogpost, Sakinah took the opportunity to speak about a few issues from her point-of-view as a racially-mixed Muslim

Image via Sakinah Tan

The first issue she raised was about how multiple non-Malay Muslims (be they born or converted to Islam) struggle with acceptance from their families, adding that she is spearheading a few quiet but ground-shaking projects to rectify the issue but need the public's help.

She also pointed out that interracial families are becoming more and more prominent but the stigma persists, especially among the youths.

Sakinah said that it is unfortunate that the old folks seemed to lack the love and care from the younger generation.

"I find it quite sad that me just sheltering my Nainai has stirred hearts for the mere fact that it's rare to find a 3rd generation care for the 1st generation," she added.

"May we all learn to love, more than hate, amidst all the terror going on elsewhere in the world. Thank you, Jason Quah, for causing the spark that lit up a few other issues linked to the Hijabrella shot."

Speaking of interracial families, read about this man's story as someone who has been in an interracial marriage in Malaysia:

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