Remona Aly
Thursday 21 March 2019 Pause for Thought, BBC Radio 2

The Princess, the Potato and a Kaleidoscope of Love

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


I’m really not much of an early bird – more snooze buttons than worm catching going on here. And one lazy Sunday, I was enjoying a longer lie in than usual, when my five year old twin nieces charged into my bedroom in a bluster of giggles shouting, “Wake up Aunty Mona, we’ve drawn these for you!”

With one eye shut and the other on their masterpieces, I saw a drawing of a giant brown potato with three eyelashes and a big red mouth, and the other of a princess with yellow hair and heart-shaped lips.

“How lovely, my darlings.” I said, “Who are they, girls?” “It’s you, Aunty Mona.” “Oh right”, I said. Interesting – I’ve been re-imagined as both a large round potato and a blonde princess. I couldn’t decide which was my truer alter ego.

Their colourful drawings took me back to the first time I was taught to make a scratch drawing – when you fill the page in multiple colours and cover it all in black crayon. I remember how magical it felt when piercing through the dark surface to reveal the rainbow beneath.

When bad things happen, I feel as though the vibrancy of life has had black crayon scribbled all over it. It’s scarily easy to wallow in murky thoughts, but there is always an antidote.

The attack in New Zealand last Friday left so many hearts darkened, but the colours of love seared their way through. I see them in the carpet of flowers including bouquets from newlyweds left in tribute outside the mosque. In the emotive Haka Maori dance performed by school kids for their lost friends, and in the heartfelt prayers and wishes of all faiths and none.

They are the epitome of the Quranic words, “Repel evil with good.” And as the medieval Muslim poet Rumi said, as if addressing those showing solidarity directly, “Your acts of kindness are iridescent wings of divine love, which linger and continue to uplift others long after your sharing.”

Whenever I feel myself sinking, I’ll cling to those iridescent wings, and scratch through the surface to find the kaleidoscope of love. My nieces’ colourful drawings remind me of that wisdom – even if they do think I’m a potato with a big mouth.