Remona Aly
Wednesday 05 October 2022 Pause for Thought, BBC Radio 2

Hidden roses

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

Hidden roses


Last week, I was looking for my NHS number in a file that allegedly contains the entirety of my life in the form of bits of paper. Lodged unceremoniously in a rickety old cabinet that looks like part of a Grange Hill set from the 80s, I came across some old school reports that didn’t always match up. One reads, ‘Remona is quiet and a daydreamer’, while another teacher writes, I was ‘engaged and enthusiastic’. 

It’s funny how people see certain aspects of you, depending on where they’re standing. While different friends have dubbed me a chatterbox, a quiet over-thinker, and a hoover – in relation to how much food I can consume which only the fasting month of Ramadan can avert – they’ve also seen boldness where I’ve seen retreat, progress where I’ve seen stasis. I’m now beginning to unveil perspectives that were never obvious before.

There’s a parable in the Muslim tradition about a man who visits the garden of a scholar and he’s asked to count the number of rose bushes it has. From the gate, the man can see eleven rose bushes, but when he moves away from the gate he suddenly discovers a rose bush he hadn’t seen before, but then he loses sight of another. No matter how or where the man moves, he can see only eleven out of the twelve rose bushes in the garden, even though all of them are right there.

I reckon there are hidden roses in us that not everyone gets to glimpse. I think there are parts other people see that we don’t always see in ourselves.

We might find the courage of a lion in a shy person, a generous heart in the one we thought never gave, or a pillar of support in the person we assumed never even cared. 

The Muslim Indian musician and founder of the Sufi Order in the West, Hazrat Inayat Khan, said, “Everything in life is speaking, in spite of its apparent silence.”

It seems not everything has to be loud to be heard, and not everything in front of me can be seen in plain sight. But the mysteries keep me moving, keep me wondering, and keep me looking for that hidden rose bush.