Not all rosy after stardom: Local singer Sarah Aqilah opens up on personal tragedies

16 September 2013 / 3 years 1 month ago

Since her celebrated victory on Suria's reality singing competition Anugerah in 2009, life has not been the easiest for local singer Sarah Aqilah.

A year after she was crowned the winner, she lost her younger sister to a virus, reported The New Paper.

That same year, she released her debut self-titled album with reputable Malaysian recording company Suria Records, which boasts the likes of Siti Nurhaliza and Noraniza Idris among its stable of artistes.

In 2011, Sarah started a new chapter in her life after a failed first marriage – she tied the knot with her stage crew fiance Muhd Sahri Jumaat, 25.

A year later, she gave birth to a baby girl, Nur Ayra Eiliyah, who ended up undergoing kidney removal surgery three months later.

When it seemed like things could not get worse, she recently lost her beloved 74-year-old grandmother to skin cancer during Ramadan on Aug 1 – just a day before her daughter's first birthday.

"We only found out (about my grandmother's condition) earlier this year. Before that, she was still working as a housekeeper and showed no signs of sickness. It was very sad because she was very dear to me," Sarah told The New Paper last week, as tears welled in her eyes.

The 29-year-old said she was very close to her grandmother, who had taken care of her when she was younger.

And the day her grandmother died, she was supposed to have work commitments.

For Sarah, it was a bitter flashback to the day her younger sister, Ms Shaffadina Jamil, then only 20, died after contracting a virus following a trip to Kusu Island.

When her sister was taken to hospital, Sarah was preparing for her performance at that year's President's Star Charity.

"Again, this time, I had to choose between work and family. I told them I was really sorry I couldn't go ahead with work and they had to find a replacement. I was miserable that I wasn't there when my sister died," she recalled.

Her grandmother died in Sarah's presence.

She recounted: "We were supposed to celebrate my daughter's birthday at the hospital with her great-grandmother, but sadly, we didn't get the chance."

And last November, her daughter had an operation to remove her left kidney.

In the early stages of Sarah's pregnancy, doctors found that the child's kidney was bloated and that it could pose a danger to the baby.

Nur Ayra had to stay for two weeks in the intensive care unit and another week in a ward, and the hospital bill came up to over $25,000.

Thankfully, the little girl, now 13 months old, has recovered and is as active as any child her age.

Sarah reflected on the low points she has faced so far: "Of course when these things happened to me, I was sad, (but) I have a very strong support system. My close-knit family and great friends gave me strength. All this taught me to appreciate my loved ones even more."

Since giving birth, her career has taken a backseat so she can devote her time to her child.

In the past year, she has taken up about 20 work engagements compared to "countless" ones years ago.

"Yes, I do agree my career is quite stagnant now and I really feel like people have forgotten me. I also get feedback that there is no more market for me," she said.

"It is sad but wait till I get back on track," she stressed.

Sarah performed at Fiesta Muzik, an annual showcase of singing sensations from Singapore and Indonesia, which aired live on Suria last Friday.

She is hoping to release a new album which will see her veer away from her usual ballads and also plans to do TV dramas again.

But for now, maternal duties are more important.

"It is worth it because you can never get back the time you lose with your baby," Sarah insisted. 

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