Remona Aly
Friday 04 December 2015 Pause for Thought, BBC Radio 2

My Generation

My Generation: Pause for Thought, BBC Radio 2, Vanessa Feltz Breakfast Show


One of my favourite childhood foods was alphabet spaghetti. I marvelled as the tomato juice oozed between the As and Ls and Rs and thought it was a miracle in food engineering. I also loved my mum’s Indian dhal, and downed both these food items to the extent that I’m convinced spaghetti juice and lentil soup are running in my veins.

Just like alphabet spaghetti and dhal, the thing about my generation is that I feel constantly formed – and challenged – by two different worlds. I’ve lived between first and second generations while navigating a new identity; I’ve gone from hand writing essays in the 20th century to swiping left on my smartphone in the 21st.

I also grew up in a pre 9/11 era when things appeared more stable, but I’ve spent my adult life trying to make sense of a world that seems eager for war.

I’ve seen so much change so quickly. I know that my parents crossed oceans to get here, yet I also feel big waves of uncertainty. When I reflect on my life, my generation and my future, i think to myself: it’s complicated. it’s cynical – but it’s still hopeful.

One thing I learnt from my parents’ generation was their attitude to never give up – and they had far less than I do. There’s an Islamic saying that goes: “If you have a sapling in your hand, plant it, even if it’s the Last Hour.”

Nothing says elbow grease to me more than that. The notion of planting a tree while the world is falling around your ears, tells me to do everything I can to safeguard my generation, and my future, and to be positive and productive, even if it’s all going to pot.

The world is not as rosy as it was when that little girl ate her alphabet spaghetti, but as someone said to me once, you can light a candle or be engulfed by the darkness. I choose to strike that match, and never lose hope that I along with the rest of my generation can change things or be the change they want to see in the world. I just need to plant that sapling, come what may.