This novel is a tribute to the strength of a Kelantanese woman from a well-known family. It is an acknowledgment of her resilience, patience, steadfastness, sincerity and acceptance. Beginning with the family’s move from town to a small village, through a series of heartbreaking events that occur-the death of a beloved father, the successive tragic deaths of one child after another, then the loss of a loving husband just before the Japanese occupation of Malaya- we witness at Siti Musalmah’s unflinching faith and determination in facing life’s trails.
As a woman, Siti Musalmah would find that overcoming these problems seems almost insurmountable - the merciless nature of Japanese soldiers, the difficulties of life as a young widow, the stresses of providing for a large family and the twists and turns arising from human folly and fancies. And yet, as a woman spiritually strong, Siti Musalmah would dedicate her life to the physical and spiritual nurturing of her family and the community of which she was a part.
Portrait of a Woman is a realistic portrayal that celebrates the noble qualities of that large group of truly courageous women who are God-fearing, open-hearted and accepting; women who are to overcome very vicissitude of life with patience and serenity, and ultimately achieve fulfillment.