Anita Sarawak's silence has sister worried
WHEN she last spoke to her United States-based half-sister Anita Sarawak in March, the iconic Singapore-born entertainer mentioned that she wanted a private life away from the spotlight.
Former model and actress-singer Noor Kumalasari Mohd Taib said: "She was the same as ever. She wants to be a full-time housewife now and relax.
"She shops for groceries at a mom-and-pop store near her home, not in a lavish shopping mall. She's very down-to-earth."
She also said that Anita - who moved back to Las Vegas in 2013 with her British husband, Mohamad Mahathir Abdullah - had told her to decline interview requests, appearances and invitations to perform at Singapore's Jubilee Year celebrations on her behalf.
"I told her that reporters were looking for her but she said, 'Tell them I'm not interested'," Noor Kumalasari, 59, told The New Paper in a phone interview from Kuala Lumpur last week.
"She is happy living a moderate life now that she has retired from showbiz."
Anita's late mother, actress Siput Sarawak, was married to late actor S. Roomai Noor before he married Noor Kumalasari's late mother, actress Umi Kalthum.
Anita, 63, fell off the radar in 2013, the last time she is said to have been in touch with industry contacts.
Famous for her deep, powerful vocals and vibrant personality, she was reportedly last based in Kuala Lumpur, where she had hosted television shows from 2003.
The entertainment diva lived and performed in Las Vegas in the US from 1985 to 2001, before returning to Singapore for two years.
After being in the limelight in Las Vegas, Malaysia and Singapore for four decades, Anita mysteriously vanished from the scene.
Noor Kumalasari said Anita had hinted at leaving behind the glitz and glamour as far back as a decade ago.
"It's high time for her to retire. She has knee problems and it was time for her to focus on her health. But she loves her fans and is always thinking of them," she said.
"She once told me, 'I'm tired but the show has to go on.' She hated to disappoint her fans.
"I think people should respect her decision. Performing is in her blood, so it's a heartache for her to quit it. It is not easy for her."
While she understands Anita's need for privacy, she also can't help worrying as it has been two months since they last spoke. This is the longest they have gone without speaking to each other.
Unusually, Anita broke her annual ritual of calling Noor Kumalasari on her birthday last month.
She felt something was amiss but tried to shake off the feeling. She worries and prays daily for Anita's safety, hoping that she is just treasuring her time away from the limelight.
"I just hope and pray that she is okay and doing well. Maybe she is just busy travelling and taking things slowly," said Noor Kumalasari.
"But that is 40 per cent of my feelings, the other 60 per cent is the thought that she might not be in the best of health."
Anita has also not been in touch with her other five half-siblings. Their calls and text messages to her have gone unanswered.
Noor Kumalasari said that Anita's best friend could not track her down despite going to her home in the US.
In Anita's absence, the rumour mill has gone into overdrive, suggesting that she was having marital problems with her 62-year-old husband and that she has started wearing the hijab (Muslim headdress).
To Noor Kumalasari's knowledge, the rumours are untrue. "That is why I want to talk to her, so she can clarify, but she hasn't called. Maybe she is afraid I would ask her point-blank about the rumours. She knows I am the type to do so.
"But what has she got to be afraid of? We are siblings."
Asked about their relationship, Noor Kumalasari said: "We click and understand each other perfectly. She gives me good advice and vice versa.
"She might be far away but my heart is full of love for her. I remember her in my prayers every day. Please pray for her as well."
THE NEW PAPER