Remona AlyWednesday 14 June 2023 Pause for Thought, BBC Radio 2
I often see myself as a simple girl who loves the simple pleasures of life – like spending quiet nights in munching crisps in front of the telly, or staying in palaces when on holiday. Alright, I’m not always low maintenance. But I remember stepping out of a gorgeous palace hotel one time in the Middle East, venturing out for a guided tour of a crumbling, medieval city.
Weaving our way around the labyrinth of alleyways, we walked past a series of doors which looked indistinct, one from the other. The tour guide said that on the outside, each door shared the same modest appearance so that you couldn’t tell which house belonged to a rich man or which to a poor man. Behind one door could lie the secrets of a grand, ornate residence, while behind another could lie the bare, meagre home of a pauper.
My life so far has been peopled with an array of characters, from those who’ve walked by my side through every milestone, to those who have simply become passers-by.
When I met my first friend at university – a funny, sassy Catholic girl, I didn’t know she’d give me the courage I needed as a nervous, new hijab-wearer, or how she would lift me up in the years to come.
When I met the man I thought I was to marry, I could not foresee how empty I would be when he was gone.
Like those humble doors I saw on holiday, I had no idea who would open the richness of a beautiful friendship, or who would leave me feeling bereft. As for the latter, I used to wish I’d never met them. But I remind myself that the ones who heal, as well as the ones who hurt, are all part of my story.
Jalaluddin Rumi, the 13th century Persian Muslim poet and scholar, tells me to welcome them all, the healers and the hurters, and says, “Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.”
I reckon each person is a doorway that determines the shape of your life. Whatever treasure they lead us to, whatever harsh lesson they invite, I’ll try to embrace any opening I find… although, the door to a palace would be highly preferable.