Remona Aly
Tuesday 15 August 2023 Pause for Thought, BBC Radio 2

From the halal butcher with love x

Pause for Thought on BBC Radio 2, Zoe Ball Breakfast Show

From the halal butcher with love x


Last weekend, I brushed off my blingy Indian outfit to attend a golden wedding anniversary, as my paternal aunt and uncle marked 50 years of marriage in a joyful celebration surrounded by family, friends and a gigantic three-tiered cake. 

But how they met was not quite your typical dreamy romance, since destiny threw them together via a bag of halal meat.  

Back in 1970s rural Kent, a halal butcher was hard to come by, so my dad had to drive over 30 miles to London for the closest one. The butcher, on hearing where dad had travelled from, told him of another customer who also lived in Kent and asked if Dad would deliver the order to save the customer a trip. He handed him the serendipitous bag of lamb shoulder and chicken legs, and off Dad went to this stranger’s house and knocked on the door, not knowing that his future brother-in-law was standing right behind it. 

Fifty years later, with three sons, 4 grandkids and a fifth on the way, who’d have thought my aunt and uncle’s meat-cute would open up such a love story. 

I look back at my own timeline, remembering things like A level results day, and how bitterly disappointed I was that I didn’t make it into my first choice of university. But my second choice ended up gifting me the deepest and most significant friendships that carried me through each twist and turn of life. 

I remember how I wanted the heartbreak of a failed relationship to fall into oblivion, but as I began over again, the wall of pain became a bridge, reconstructing me with more wisdom, self-awareness and feeling.

Beginnings can be strange, tough, bemusing even, and I think you can be blind to the beyondness hidden within them. 

The Pakistani Muslim poet, artist and author, Noor Unnahar puts it this way: “Like the anger of fire shapes the metal, like the sorrow of a writer creates poetry, everything that is beautiful doesn’t always start beautifully.”

I now get how troubles can lead to tranquillity, messiness to artistry, and how ugliness can turn towards real beauty. Yet most of all, I will never get over how a bag of halal meat can lead to 50 years of marriage. 

To listen, click here Pause for Thought on BBC Radio 2, Zoe Ball Breakfast Show