Welcome to Soul Mates, Metro.co.uk’s weekly friendship series, where friends share the stories of how they met.
‘We have an unconditional friendship,’ says Salma Bedair, 36, of her best friend, Rosie Hardy, 37. ‘There’s nothing she could do that would change the way I feel about her.’
The school bus and matching trainers brought the then school girls together – but they’ve gone on to forge a 25 year long (so far) bond that they both agree is more comparable to that of a married couple.
They met, aged just 11 years old, on their first day of high school in Dublin, Ireland.
Salma says the pair were ‘different’ from other girls in their year. Salma was born in Cairo, Egypt, and her family emigrated to the Emerald Isle when she was four. She was one of the few Muslim pupils in an all-girls Catholic school in Ireland in the late 90s.
Meanwhile Rosie says she had a ‘difficult’ childhood. Her mum passed away from cancer when she was just six-years-old. Separated from her sister – who had a different dad – Rosie went to live with an aunt in what she describes as ‘the rough part’ of Dublin. ‘I was pretty unloved as a child,’ she puts it, matter-of-factly.
Aged 11, a ‘really shy, really awkward’ Rosie was nervous about starting high school.
On that first day, she remembers all the girls filing into a big room, where they were assigned to their classes.
‘I just remember Salma bounding up to me, and telling me that I took the same bus as her. “I’ll save you a seat,” she said.
‘She was oozing confidence. I was just delighted that someone wanted to talk to me!’
For Salma, the draw to Rosie was simple: ‘We had the same pair of white Reebok Classics with blue stripes,’ she laughs. ‘That’s why I noticed her!’
Rosie and Salma both say they were opposites in many ways. Salma says: ‘Anything I liked, she didn’t like. I loved basketball, played piano and was mad into musicals, but she had none of those interests or hobbies.’
Rosie adds: ‘Salma grew up with a lot of privilege. Back then, I think she felt a pull to take me under my wing because I was less fortunate than her – I used to think it was pity, but now I know she’s just really self-aware.’
From the moment they met, the girls were inseparable. ‘We’d sit together on the bus to school every day,’ says Salma. ‘We were obsessed with trying to get people to think we were funny – we’d had a good day at school if we’d got the whole class laughing.
‘We’d make up silly songs and dances. I used to try and sneak into her classes and the teacher would kick me out. Rosie was terrified of banana peels so I’d tape them to her chair and she’d end up screaming. Or I’d duct tape her to her chair so when class was over she wouldn’t be able to leave.
‘It sounds like bullying, but it was mutual! We looked quite comical too, I was small and round and she was tall and lanky!’
And Salma’s family soon became a surrogate family to Rosie. ‘There was one point when I was doing my A-levels when I was having trouble at home, and I nearly moved in with them,’ she explains.
‘We’d spend pretty much every weekend together. We loved going to the cinema together – I like butter on my popcorn and halfway through the movie Salma used to go out and add more butter for me.
‘My favourite memories are just being in her house, eating roast dinners with her family. I still send a Mothers’ Day card to Salma’s mum every year.’
Salma adds: ‘As we got older, we’d spend hungover Sundays at mine, watching Lost and eating Chinese food.’
The pair say their friendship has shaped each other. Salma says: ‘Rosie was really emotionally intelligent from a young age and she’s helped me develop those skills over the years. She’s been really good at explaining things to me and making sure I see the other side.’
Meanwhile Rosie says Salma brought her out of her shell. ‘I’m a confident person now and that’s partly down to her.
‘I feel like Salma and her family broadened my mind a bit too – her family also had a house in Palma, Spain, and her dad’s Egyptian. I’d never met people from other cultures before.’
After school, life took them in different directions – and to opposite sides of the globe (although they did make a return to their high school for a reunion, where they wore their old uniforms) – but their bond has only strengthened. Salma has travelled the world with the Irish army and now lives in Egypt, while Rosie is in the UK, where she reconnected with her sister.
Rosie says: ‘I think living far apart has actually made our friendship even more intense. It means we have to make time for each other and prioritise each other.
‘I could easily talk to her for hours on the phone every day, but also, if we don’t speak for a week, that’s fine too.
‘I’m really close to my sister and my family now, but Salma’s family are still a big part of my life. I’m her nephew’s godmother.’
The pair joke that it’s their shared love of food that’s meant they’ve now been friends for nearly three decades.
‘She’s my favourite person to eat with,’ says Salma. ‘I can’t eat a meal without sending her pictures of it first!
‘But she’s also one of the few people in my life that I know I can talk to without any judgement. She’s amazing at giving advice – although she doesn’t always take it herself! I trust her completely.’
Looking to the future, there’s no doubt they’ll be in each other’s lives forever. ‘I want Salma to get married, have a baby, and then build an annex for me in her house,’ laughs Rosie.
Salma adds: ‘We have the same values, so that will always keep us together. We’ve always been each others biggest fans, and biggest cheerleaders.’
‘I do think we’re in a love a bit,’ says Rosie. ‘We’re very lucky,’ adds Salma.
Do you have a story to share?
Get in touch by emailing [email protected].
Source: Read Full Article