Love blooms in the workplace for these two former colleagues


Photos By AZLINA ABDULLAH

Mazlinda and Fareed were married 10 years ago on Feb 10, 2013.

With the amount of time we spend at work, it’s only natural that some people end up falling in love and finding their life partner in the office. At least, that’s what happened for former colleagues Tengku Mazlinda Tengku Mahmood and Mohd Fareed Izwan Shah Mohd Amin.

Tengku Mazlinda, 43, and Mohd Fareed, 41, have been married to each other for 10 years and are proud parents to four children aged from 10 to four.

“It all started 13 years ago when we went to climb Mount Kinabalu as part of our ‘extreme’ sports club activities,” says Mohd Fareed who now runs his own cafe in Petaling Jaya.

“I noticed he was handsome because he was flexing in front of us, demonstrating his athletic prowess during the training sessions at Batu Caves,” says Tengku Mazlinda who now works as a corporate affairs manager for a government agency in Putrajaya.

“But it wasn’t love at first sight because he was younger and I never thought that I would fall for someone younger,” she admits.

Fareed and Mazlinda at their wedding on Feb 10, 2013. Photo: Mohd Fareed Izwan Shah Mohd AminFareed and Mazlinda at their wedding on Feb 10, 2013. Photo: Mohd Fareed Izwan Shah Mohd Amin

“I first noticed her when I joined the Standard Chartered Marathon before our Mount Kinabalu climb. At that time, I just was curious, wondering who she was because I’d never seen her before,” says Mohd Fareed.

He admits to being the sociable type who likes talking to people and making friends. What was utmost in his mind, at the time, was helping those who weren’t as fit and had difficulties during the training sessions.

“While the rest accepted my help, when I asked Linda if she needed help, she shooed me away so I thought she was ‘action’ (snobbish),” he says.

“Initially, I thought he was being disrespectful when he kept joking around since I’m older than him. I told him ‘you should talk properly to me cos I’m kakak (older sister) and you’re adik (younger brother)’!” she says.

“To me, the only difference was that she happened to be born first. But the age difference doesn't really matter to me,” he says.

But when they were at Mount Kinabalu, the pair fell for each other.

Mazlinda (in black tudung) and Fareed (in red) first met through their company's extreme sports club activities.Photo: Mohd Fareed Izwan Shah Mohd AminMazlinda (in black tudung) and Fareed (in red) first met through their company's extreme sports club activities.Photo: Mohd Fareed Izwan Shah Mohd Amin

“It was raining during the ascent and he was very helpful and attentive. He took care of those who needed help and that left a big impression on me,” she says.

“The descent was difficult and because it was wet and slippery, I slipped and fell, injuring my ankle. Because I didn’t want to slow down the group, I decided to ask just him to help me instead of inconveniencing everyone and making them wait,” she says.

He held her hand and guided her down the mountain the entire six-hours it took for them to reach the park entrance. By the time they arrived, everyone else (who had taken four hours for the descent) was already on the bus and the gates were about to close.

“I remember feeling very comfortable with her,” he says.

And then, he asked her out for a drink.

Office romance

Mazlinda and Fareed who are former colleagues at a media company, share their love story.Mazlinda and Fareed who are former colleagues at a media company, share their love story.

According to them, there weren’t any issues “dating a colleague”.

“We’re from different departments. I’m from marketing and based in Bangsar while she’s a reporter based in Shah Alam,” he says. “Companies may have issues hiring married couples, especially in the same department, but if two people in the workplace happen to meet and become a couple, there usually isn’t an issue.”

One of their biggest challenges was making time for each other.

“I often finished work late. We would go to the mall but most of the shops would be already closed. There was even one time when I had to rush off while we were having dinner together as I was recalled (to do coverage) for a murder case!” she says.

They also didn’t have any issues with their colleagues, although some of their mutual friends at work initially “disapproved” of their relationship, the couple reveals.

“Some of them thought we shouldn’t be together as we were very different and were each other’s complete opposite. He’s very friendly, outgoing and athletic and had many admirers, while I’m a natural introvert and selectively social when required, and usually for work,” says Tengku Mazlinda.

“But over time, they saw that despite our differences, we made it work and they were happy for us,” says Mohd Fareed.

Tengku Mazlinda says that her women colleagues would “warn” Fareed not to “play with her heart”.

“But they were just concerned for my well-being. They weren’t trying to be mean or gossiping about us,” she says.

“During the time when I was based at the Bangsar HQ for awhile, he used to come to my floor quite often. And my colleagues would tease him because his eyes would scan the room to see whether I was there. They would ask him, ‘What business do you have here? Looking for Linda?’” she says.

Even if you're angry or upset with each other, discuss things calmly and rationally instead of raising your voices and shouting at each other, the couple advises.Even if you're angry or upset with each other, discuss things calmly and rationally instead of raising your voices and shouting at each other, the couple advises.The good thing about working together was that even though they had difficulty finding time to go on dates, they could still see each other at the office.

“I remember looking forward to prayer time as he would pass by my office on his way to the surau. Back then, even exchanging smiles made us very happy. And on the rare days that we finished work at the same time, we would clock out together and go for ice cream or Indian food in Bangsar,” says Tengku Mazlinda.

They became “official” in a few months. Mohd Fareed was already 30 and thought it was the “right time to focus on a relationship”.

“She was mature and I liked that. I thought to myself, she’ll be a good mother to our children in the future,” he adds.

But he didn’t announce that he was dating and only informed his family about their relationship when he went to perform Umrah in 2012.

“He invited me for the Doa Selamat prayers at his home where I met, not just his family, but his extended family, and I got interrogated,” she says.

“I was the first girl he brought home to introduce to his parents and they weren’t expecting it.”

They got married in 2013.

Be considerate and kind

Mazlinda is grateful that Fareed helps with the housework and children.Mazlinda is grateful that Fareed helps with the housework and children.

Their secret to a successful marriage is they “try to understand and see things from each other’s perspective and be patient with each other”.

“For example, if she comes home stressed and the kids are naughty or the house is messy, she might get more upset. If we as men can be patient or considerate with other people, then why not with our own family? The least I can do is help my wife with the kids or do the dishes to make her feel better and then she won’t be so stressed,” he says, adding that “housework and kids is not just a woman’s job”.

“I’m really grateful because my husband supports my career and helps out at home. Most of my friends are surprised and tell me their husbands rarely help around the house,” she says.

“Recently, I often go home late - around 10pm to 11pm - since I’m doing annual reports. And, when I arrive home, the kids are already fed and bathed, and I’m so thankful,” she adds.

“And, even if we’re angry or upset with each other, we discuss things calmly and rationally, and rarely raise our voices at each other,” she concludes.


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