June and Jennifer Gibbons : The Silent Twins who hadn’t spoken to anyone but each other their whole lives

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The Silent twins are two unforgettable personalities of the United Kingdom. June and Jennifer Gibbons were actually identical twins to Gloria and Aubrey Gibbons. They were in fact from Barbados and settled to the United Kingdom during the Windrush era.

As the twins grew up, they started having difficulty to mingle with their schoolmates owing to their Bajan Creole accent.  They were the only black children in the community there. To adapt to the British culture was immensely challenging to them.

At school, their teachers pointed out that the two sisters would not participate at all in class. They would talk to each other only. They did not communicate to others neither. They rather became distant from their family growing gradually lonely. Their weird behaviour was underlined by a doctor who came at their school to give students tuberculosis jabs.

It was more strange when they displayed no reaction or emotion when they were injected, hence urging the doctor to contact a child psychiatrist. After being examined by the psychiatrist, they were then scrutinized by a speech therapist at the Withybush Hospital.

Their speech was recorded by the therapist who was able to decipher their “secret language” which was a mixture of British English and Bajan slang.

These two sisters were soul sisters. When they were separated owing to their odd behaviour, June became passive and showed no readiness to cooperate. She spent most of her time lying in bed.

Marjorie Wallace, a journalist and mental health campaigner understood their bond pretty well and thus highlighted, “They had these rituals where they decided between them which one would wake first, which one would breathe first, and the other wasn’t allowed to breathe until the first one breathed… It was like some sinister childhood game that got out of control”. When Jennifer died, June’s poem was engraved on her gravestone:

‘We once were two/We two made one/We no more two/Through life be one/Rest in peace.’ 

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