KUALA LUMPUR: Dr Siti Hasmah Mohamad Ali has worn many hats in her lifetime: She was one of the first ethnic Malay women doctors in Malaysia, she is a mother of seven, a grandmother to 18 and a great-grandmother to one.
But today, at 92, she finds herself in the second act of her most famous role - the wife of Malaysia's Prime Minister.
"I never dreamed of (being back here)," she told Channel NewsAsia in her office at the Perdana Leadership Foundation, a place dedicated to past prime ministers.
"Sometimes I think: Why should I be in this position the first place? But plans are sometimes not ours to begin with, it comes from high above."
Dr Siti Hasmah was Malaysia's "first lady" from 1981 to 2003 before her husband, Dr Mahathir Mohamad stepped down as prime minister.
For more than a decade, they spent their retirement making occasional political appearances, going on holidays and spending time with their family.
Then, Dr Mahathir decided to go up against his former protege, ex-prime minister Najib Razak, whom he believed had become corrupt.
It was a battle no one could have seen coming- but the 93-year-old emerged victorious in the May 9 general elections. Najib has now been charged in court for alleged graft and abuse of power.
"I hope and pray that God will give (Mahathir) guidance," she said softly.
"I asked him: 'You know. You at your age and me at my age - you want to take up this responsibility again?'. He says yes, it is his responsibility."
Now, their life of occasional political appearances has turned into daily appointments. Family time is relegated to the weekends, if possible. Holidays will have to be scheduled in advance.
But while Dr Siti Hasmah may not have chosen this life again, she believes in what her husband is fighting for.
Losing her ever-present smile, her eyes glossed over with tears when she spoke about her hopes for Malaysia.
"It's only these days you know, when I go to events and they play the (national anthem) Negaraku, I get very emotional," she explains.
"This is our country ... In some ways, we have lost our way. We lost our moral values over the past five years you know ... once our moral values are lost, it's difficult to get it back."
But she'll be by her husband's side as he tries.
THEIR LOVE STORY
Dr Siti Hasmah met Dr Mahathir when they were both medical students in Singapore.
"Among the seven Malay boys who became first-year medical students in 1947 in Singapore, he seemed to be the (most) intelligent one, because he had (a) distinction in physics and at that time even the Malay students went in with not so many 'A's compared to the non-Malays," she recalls. "I went in with only one 'A'."
The man who would go on to be prime minister became her tutor in physics, chemistry and whatever subject she needed help with.
His intelligence, she says, is what draws people to him even now.
"Although I'm telling you this (with him being) my husband and Prime Minister, but he is blessed with two behaviours.
"One is he's calm. Then, he's got the intelligence, to look forward - the vision. And a third thing is: He knows about everything and that's why people like him."
She credits his knowledge to a voracious appetite for reading.
"He reads, reads and reads," she shares. "In the house, you can see the magazines in the bathroom - there're flight magazines, there're automotive magazines, about boats, popular science, the economy and also those for homemakers.
"He is very keen on interior decoration and nice things and handicraft."
Dr Siti said she can't keep up with him in this regard, suffering from poor eyesight that has deteriorated in recent years.
Her love for music, however, is something she continues to pursue - giving the occasional violin or piano performance.
COMPARISONS WITH ROSMAH
Upon her return to the spotlight, it was Dr Siti's fashion choices that came under the most scrutiny.
When she stepped out with Dr Mahathir on his first day at the Prime Minister's Office, it was her bag that Malaysians analysed online.
They compared its modest price to that of bags belonging to Rosmah Mansor - the former first lady whose ostensibly expensive tastes have roused the ire of Malaysians.
Dr Siti says she "does not want to be compared to anyone" but accepts the attention as part of her role.
"Everybody is now with iPhones and everything, they watch you especially when they want to compare you with previous prime ministers' wives," she said.
"I know I'm targetted. Fortunately, my lifestyle is different".
"I don't change. I don't wear too much jewellery ... what I did before (when Dr Mahathir was last in office), I continue to do so now," she states.
"I'm not fussy and I don't demand."
"HE'S VERY SHY"
After more than six decades of marriage, Dr Siti and her husband have drawn attention online for their relationship too.
By her own admission, she tries not to leave his side so as to keep an eye on him. Even when she cannot physically keep up and Dr Mahathir is too "shy" to make sure she does.
"You'll see on any occasion, I'm never beside him because he walks so fast and I need someone, especially with my low vision, to hold my hand ... I like to hold my husband's hand but he'll be 50m away from me," she joked.
"He's a very shy person ... I always tell this to show how shy he is: In the car - at night, not morning - he will put his hand over mine. But the moment we come to a toll - a toll mind you! The person must be high up! - he pulls his hand up."
BRINGING POLITICIANS' WIVES TOGETHER
Now that she's back in the role of prime minister's wife, Dr Siti does have some key goals.
Above all, she wants to bring the wives of Pakatan Harapan ministers and deputy ministers together.
The only organisation for ministers' wives belongs to Barisan Nasional - the former ruling coalition that had led the country since independence. Dr Siti will spearhead a new organisation.
"It is going to be from ground zero," she said.
"The purpose ... will be to gather the wives, to know each other and then, also the other objective is to raise funds to give to charity homes,
back to the community.
"A form of appreciation for what the community has done in the election that is, they have elected the husbands to become what they are in government."
STAYING OUT OF POLITICS
One thing you won't see her doing much of, however, is getting involved in politics. Dr Siti said she prefers to stay out of conflicts - for Dr Mahathir's benefit too.
"He says I'm a worrier and he says if I worry, I get upset especially if certain names are mentioned and if I meet the person, my face would change. He doesn't want that," she laughed.
"You see, when I am angry with someone he mentioned in one of our conversations, the next time I I look at (that person), my face will change and my anger will show up on my face ... so he doesn't want to tell me anything."
As for when the couple can resume their retirement, Dr Siti says the ball is in Dr Mahathir's court.
"How long (to go) depends on my husband right? I've also agreed with him that it's just an interim period for him to be the prime minister," she shares.
"In the meantime, we're just trying to achieve as best as possible what he wants to do in this interim period.
"And once, I guess, he has completed his responsibilities and he knows there'll be someone to take over to continue what he's done to bring up this beloved country of ours to a situation where we can redeem whatever was lost before, then probably, that's the time we should really retire properly."