Issue 97 October 2012
Anadel came to the UK from Saudi Arabia and befriended Fatimah. One learned more about the richness of her Arab culture, and the other learned all about Harry Potter, Hogwarts and Greek Mythology.
I met Anadel on our first day of school. We were beginning Year 11. She was far more interesting than us local students, but was also mad because she chose to sit the British GCSE exams and the exams of the Saudi Arabian curriculum simultaneously. I didn’t appreciate how difficult it must have been for her to settle into a new country, speak a foreign language, sit exams in that language, then take another set of exams, and on top of that have to make friends and live through the British weather! I sometimes ponder whether I could have done the same, and the answer is always a resolute No.
Anadel returned to Saudi to continue her education, but the strength of character that I noticed from the beginning struck a permanent connection between us. When she returned, she was welcomed jubilantly, and as much as we would have loved to party together everyday, we could not as we had our heads stuck in our study books. Despite not being able to see each other as much, Anadel always helped me whenever I required it, which far outweighed the number of times she called on me for help.
As we grew in character, so did our friendship; we would agree, disagree, laugh and frown. We were not afraid to be honest, allowing our connection to bend and stretch with the winds of difference. Our varied ways of thinking have always been an appreciated flavouring to our friendship. I recall one time when we were 16 and lying down on the classroom floor, staring up at the ceiling whilst discussing the notion of romantic love. I was for, and Anadel was against. Something she said struck a chord, and my fairy-tale brainwashed mind cleared, as the notion of love seemed more complex than what I had perceived it to be.
When I met Fatimah, my first impressions were that she was shy, smart and unique. I still remember 10 years ago when I saw her in our common room knitting scarves that had the badges of the Hogwarts houses from the Harry Potter books. She passed that love of Harry Potter books on to me and I am now an avid fan! Fatimah is a very keen reader, and devours books on topics ranging from religion, politics, culture, science, and fiction to niche genres, such as comics and Japanese manga. I really admire her passion to learn and to share everything useful.
I remember this one time when we were cooking together at my house, Fatimah was telling me about an article that she had read about the planets in our solar system and how many moons each one of them has, and she somehow turned the conversation to Greek mythology to explain the origin of the word “echo”. I listened in amazement throughout her narration. She never fails to impress me with her broad knowledge.