Malaysian wife juggles three jobs to pay bills for stroke-stricken hubby


Tantiyana (right) has three jobs to ensure she has enough funds to pay for Ahmad's medical bills. Photos: Tantiyana Sutan Shahril

Crafter Tantiyana Sutan Shahril, 46, is drawn to some of the unlikeliest treasures: nuts, bolts and washers. Visiting a hardware shop isn't about fixing things for her; it's an opportunity to discover new materials for her textured abstract artwork.

"I'm always excited to stumble upon items like these," Tantiyana said during a phone interview. "They add a unique texture and dimension to my creations, turning them into something extraordinary."

For Tantiyana, abstract art isn't just about colours and forms; it's a way to explore the beauty that unconventional materials can bring to life.

Her creations include wall decorative art pieces with nuts and screws, and access card holders with washers. One of her most creative statement wall pieces combines empty drinking cans and wire mesh with an exhaust fan, spray-painted in gold.

Tantiyana believes almost anything can be given a second life and turned to art.Tantiyana believes almost anything can be given a second life and turned to art.

But Tantiyana's artistic journey goes beyond personal gratification. Her art merchandise, which also includes handpainted tumblers and notebooks, is sold at bazaars around the Klang Valley. She shares photos of her creations on her Instagram.

Every ringgit earned is dedicated to her husband, Ahmad Hazrizal Liong Abdullah, 52, a stroke survivor whose medical bills and care weigh heavily on her shoulders.

"Ahmad suffered a brain stroke in 2019, and he's been staying at a nursing home in Semenyih for four years. He has limited mobility, and he needs assistance with daily tasks like eating, and showering. As the sole breadwinner, I work three jobs (transporter, art teacher and crafter) to pay his monthly bills which are over RM3,000," said Tantiyana, who works about 12 hours per day on weekdays.

Tantiyana's journey highlights the pressing issue of many caregivers, who grapple with juggling a few jobs to support a family member who is unwell.Tantiyana's journey highlights the pressing issue of many caregivers, who grapple with juggling a few jobs to support a family member who is unwell.Tantiyana's journey highlights the pressing issue of many caregivers who grapple with the complex challenge of juggling a few jobs to support a family member who is unwell.

She gave up her job as a training manager to care for Ahmad, a former manager at a multilevel marketing company in KL. She eventually sold their apartment in Overseas Union Garden in KL to finance Ahmad's medical bills.

When their finances ran low, she decided to place him in a home. She currently lives in a rented room in Jalan Klang Lama, KL, so that she can go out and earn an income.

"We have been married for 20 years. Ahmad was my pillar of strength and my best friend. But I love him and will do my best to look after him," she said, her voice trembling a little with emotion.

Despite her experience as a trainer, she opted to take on other jobs as it gives her the flexibility to visit her husband regularly.

Abstract art isn't just about colours and forms; it's a way to explore the beauty that unconventional materials can bring, says Tantiyana.Abstract art isn't just about colours and forms; it's a way to explore the beauty that unconventional materials can bring, says Tantiyana.

Creativity amidst challenges

For Tantiyana, art is a source of comfort and an avenue of expression.

"My art is my therapy and coping mechanism as well as my escape from stressful day-to-day struggles. I consider art as an outlet to vent or express myself."

Her abstract designs are both creative and symbolic, and a metaphor for transforming discarded pieces into objects of beauty.

'Find strength in your struggles and transform challenges into opportunities for growth and creativity,' says Tantiyana.'Find strength in your struggles and transform challenges into opportunities for growth and creativity,' says Tantiyana."I love the idea of using unconventional things that people would never see as beautiful. I believe almost anything can be given a second life and turned into art," shared Tantiyana, who usually turns to social media platforms for inspiration and ideas.

She will be one of the exhibitors at the Kita Orang Art Festival, happening from Aug 29 till Sept 12 at Avenue K in KL. Organised by Lai Lai Art, the event features art workshops, arts and crafts, and the works of homegrown artists.

Her advice to others facing adversity echoes the very essence of her story. "Find what drives you or motivates you," she shared.

"Having a strong support structure from either friends or family is crucial. It's okay to ask for help, cry and be weak. But the important part is to get back up and continue.

"Find strength in your struggles and transform challenges into opportunities for growth and creativity," she said on a concluding note.


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Stroke , Textured Art , Mental Health , Art Therapy

   

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