There was a reason why that particular image of Siti Halimah Abdullah was chosen to grace the cover of Kias Tersirat by Herman Abdullah.

In the photo, she was sitting on the floor with her left knee close to her chest, prayer beads in her hand and a miswak (teeth cleaning) stick before her. She was clad in a deep violet shirt and a batik sarong, with a white scarf wrapped loosely around her head. The main pillar of her wooden house was visible in the background. Her eyes gazed afar.

The elderly Cambodian Malay woman was 97 years old at the time the picture was taken in May 2011.

That solemn picture epitomised the state of the Malay culture today; aged, near death and melancholic.

A picture he took while on the Jejak Warisan Jawi I dan II expeditions, in 2010 and 2011 covering Southeast Asian countries by road.