Remona Aly
Saturday 15 September 2018 Pause of Thought, BBC Radio 2

No weddings and a funeral

No weddings and a funeral
Pause for Thought, BBC Radio 2, Breakfast with Dermot O’Leary


A few years ago, I was propositioned at a funeral. There I was, trying to comfort old friends, crumpled tissues at hand, tears of solidarity, looking a total mess.  But despite all this, I was getting properly checked out – and not by a guy, but by his mother. Story of my life.

I had never even met this random Indian woman before, but she was beaming at me from across the grim-faced room. She bee-lined over and said, “Salam alaykum, beti” – using the Urdu word for ‘daughter’ – perhaps getting a little ahead of herself. “Tell me”, she said eagerly, “Are you married? How old are you? My son is single!” It was all very untoward. I gave her my number of course – it’s slim pickings these days, but I did think to myself, strange things really do happen in the most unexpected places.

It reminded me of an Islamic story about a great wise man named Khidr who took Prophet Moses on a journey but warned him, you’ll see things which will baffle you, but be patient, there is wisdom in the weirdness.

They were walking along the seashore when a boat passed by. The crew recognised Khidr and happily took him on board without charge. To Moses’s shock, Khidr then removed one of the planks of the boat. “These people gave us a free ride, but you’ve damaged their boat!” cried Moses. Khidr simply replied, “Didn’t I say be patient with me?”

At the end of their journey, Khidr finally told him the boat belonged to poor people and a greedy king was seizing every ship by force, so by making it temporarily defective, Khidr had saved it for its owners.

Like Moses, I question things that don’t always make sense, but it’s often where you learn the wisest lessons. Whether it’s finding peace in the eye of a storm, light in a hopeless place, or love at a funeral, the struggles and the joys all give shape to my journey of faith.

Well I did get a call from that guy whose mum took a shine to me, but alas he turned out to be the diametric opposite of Mr Right. No weddings and a funeral later, I still look for the beauty in the bizarre, and hold out for the promise that may shine in the unexpected.