Sunday, 7 September 2014

The twins.

When my parents were alive they lived outside a village in suffolk. Across the field in front of the house was an oak tree, it looked like a single tree from a distance but a closer inspection revealed that it was in fact two trees growing side by side. so close were they to each other that one had to surmise that they had grown from a squirrels buried stash of acorns.

Over the years these two trees individually grew apart as they grew up; each in search of its own light and space but such was the proximity of their origin neither of them had a say in which way it could grow, but grow apart they must.

One of the trees has light green foliage. The other dark. Other than that, as I have written, they could be one tree with a double trunk.

In the late 50's my twin sisters were born on Christmas day. It is one of my earliest memories; A christmas day (or perhaps a day later) spent in the hospital, unwrapping our presents and from what I can glean from said memory, the presents were more important that the arrival of sisters. I got a yellow bulldozer. I cannot tell you anything about the twins except that they were suddenly there.

The younger of the twins was sickly and fighting for life, she spent weeks in an oxygen tent and probably developing a completely different approach to life than her healthy sister.

From that day onwards the twins were simply 'The Twins', they were dressed alike, had the same haircuts and were referred to as a single entity even though they were not identical, came from separate eggs and had separate life support systems in the womb; two little acorns planted very close together.

From then onwards they started to grow apart, each craving her own light and space.

Thinking about it now, 55 years later I wonder if perhaps they had entered in to some unspoken pact that would allow each a degree of individuality in  their shared existence. 

One became more thoughtful and quiet while the other extrovert and capricious. Now it is as if one suffers life's hardships while the other revels in its possibilities; one tree watered from a glass half empty, the other from a glass half full. It is of course the sister who struggled for life in the beginning who makes the most of it later on. I could identify each of them simply from statements about their behaviour, If one was expelled from school, of course it was 'X', if one excelled in exams, of course it was 'Y'. One had dark emotional foliage the other light. Was this in some way considered (albeit subconsciously) and intentional or was it purely instinctive?

I used to, rather cruelly, think of them as two halves of the whole person but that of course is not the case. They are two individuals who have struggled to find their own light and air from very stifling beginnings.

I have come to the conclusion that treating twins as one entity, especially dressing them identically and never referring to them individually, considering them as accessories, is nothing short of child cruelty. 

1 comment:

Annie said...

Interesting post. I'm a twin too, born on Christmas Day in 1955. My sister and I, though we look very much alike, are total opposites in behaviour and emotionally. We were dressed alike till we were old enough to ask to wear different clothes. We were always just called "the twins" or the "twinnies" too. I sometimes wondered if people actually knew my name.