A video of a Malaysian woman working as a cleaner and speaking fluent Japanese to guests at a mosque in Kuala Lumpur surprised her countrymen.The woman has since been identified as Nirmaningsih Mawi, also fondly referred to as Kak Ning.
Worked as tour guide previously
According to Harian Metro, the 59-year-old woman previously worked as a tour guide for 30 years before switching jobs to clean the national mosque following the closure of borders due to the pandemic.
Her previous job as a tour guide required her to bring tourists to that very mosque, a place she now cleans to earn a living.
Husband also working in mosque
Kak Ning revealed that she chose to be a cleaner at the mosque to still be in contact with tourists and also to be close to her husband, as he also works as a cleaner there.
She said: “With my husband here, we can have lunch together and pray. Other than that, I can also meet new tourists every day.”
Knows 5 languages
In total, Kak Ning is fluent in five languages: Malay, English, Japanese, German, and Arabic.
“I also speak fluent Arabic and German,” she said.
She started her career as a tour guide in 1990 when she started to take language courses, with English as her first foray into a foreign language, Harian Metro reported.
A year after that, she started learning Japanese.
In 2010, she started to learn Arabic, which was followed by learning German in 2011.
"I used to go for training in Tokyo. That was where I practised to speak the language, as well as learning about their working ethics,” she said.
“I’m still partly a tour guide.”
Still works as tour guide
Despite doing cleaning now, Kak Ning said she still provides tour guide services on weekends.
And despite her age, she said she finds no excuses to work any lesser.
In response to her online fame, Kak Ning said she had no idea the video of her conversing in Japanese would be widely circulated and well-received as it was merely a casual conversation.
Her advice to others?
She said: “I hope it fuelled the spirit of the youth out there to learn the languages they like, and not to be too choosy in work.”