Remona Aly
Wednesday 19 May 2021 Pause for Thought, BBC Radio 2

Love cake, Broken Dreams and Hope

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

Love cake, disappointment and hope


Last week, I bid farewell to the last sunset of Ramadan, and as the curtain lowered over a month of fasting, I plunged gob-first into a day of feasting better known as Eid. This year, instead of my usual low-effort fairy cakes with jelly tots on top, I decided to stretch the baking skills with a complex three-layered Persian Love Cake. Legend has it that a woman who was head over heels for a prince, baked him this cake, and upon eating it, he fell madly in love with her. 

Now, my attempt at a love cake prompted me to rename it: ‘I Like You as A Friend’ cake, as it didn’t quite look like the picture in the recipe book with its perfectly shaped mascarpone minarets – mine looked like poop emojis that someone accidentally trod on. As with so many things in my life, things didn’t go according to plan, with the reality-versus-expectation game leaving me on the losing side. 

Various disappointments that have eclipsed my dreams include the likes of potential suitors whose mothers were more interested in me than they were. Or my yearning for a big work pitch to get taken up, only to be passed over by yet another editor. And after raising my hands in prayer for a loved one to recover, they’ve left me lowering them in tears. 

Yet each disappointment has brought me a new insight. That with every crush there is a healing. With each dead end, there is a redirection. Hope is as fragile as it is powerful, and that’s where its beauty lies.

As I look to the world around me, with all the pain and injustice, it can feel like the walls are caving in. But I hear the birds sing in my garden as they always do, even before they see the light of day, and they remind me to focus on the promise ahead. The medieval Persian Muslim poet, scholar and mystic, Rumi, says, “Do not stray into the neighbourhood of despair. For there are hopes: they are real, they exist. Do not go in the direction of darkness – I tell you: suns exist.”

I’ll move with those suns and also move with more optimism towards my next crack at a three layered love cake.