Remona Aly
Thursday 24 November 2016 Pause for Thought, BBC Radio 2

My First Kiss

My First Kiss, Pause for Thought, BBC Radio 2, Chris Evans Breakfast Show


One of my favourite festive times of year is around the corner – Christmas – yes even for Muzzies like me, but don’t worry, Eid still has top billing – thank God someone’s thought of Eid crackers.  

But I do look forward to the season of logs on the fire, mistletoe and wine – though mine’s an elderflower fizz – and speaking of mistletoe in particular, I want to tell you about my first ever kiss.

Before anyone gets too excited with thoughts of bicycle sheds, spotty teenagers or indeed, my mum goes into meltdown over my upbringing, let me say straight up – that it was all very much above board. 

Because my first kiss was innocently planted on the front cover of a book – the Muslim holy book to be precise.  

My mum first taught me how to read the Quran when I was four years old. I remember how she’d take it out of the dark velvet pouch, wrapped up like a treasured love letter, and teach me to pronounce the sacred swirls of Arabic. As soon as I finished a lesson, I’d give the cover a gentle little kiss and touch it to my forehead. 

Kissing the Quran is a familiar tradition for many Muslims. It reflects a heart full of love for the scripture. When I kiss it, I kiss it for all the beauties and lessons it holds in its pages: the poetical reminders of the natural world, the compassion for humanity, the miracle of Jesus and the resilience of Mary.  

The ups and downs of life has made my relationship with the Quran and with God – well, more complicated. Some days I’ve been so busy, so distracted, that I’ve neglected to even touch it.

I think that Hafiz, the Persian poet who was known as a master memoriser of the Quran, got it spot on 700 years ago when he wrote: “One regret, dear world, that I am determined not to have when I am lying on my deathbed, is that I did not kiss you enough.”

Life is going at warp speed and I get so caught up in it, I sometimes forget to kiss all the funny little moments, to savour every friendship, to bask in the sunshine after a rainy day. 

All of these make up the verses and chapters of life, and every kiss for them tells its own greatest love story.