Or should I say, 'kia ora' because as I type this, I'm on the other side of the world from my UK home in Englefield Green, visiting my twin sister Zandra in New Zealand. Yes, our parents named us Zoë and Zandra, a nice ring for identical twins.
My apologies if you're reading this while in Europe because I'm about to rave a little about the New Zealand summer. This burst of heat after months of winter in England feels wonderful. My depleted Vitamin D levels are getting a much needed top up and I understand why flowers are compelled to turn their heads towards the sun. Its healing and rejuvenating rays are literally life giving.
As well, I am always happy to be with my sister, the person with whom I've shared three score and ten or so years walking this planet. When we were born, our parents felt like we were a miracle.
I described in my book how our Mummy, through the earlier years of her marriage, suffered from four miscarriages. She just couldn’t hold her babies. About a year before our arrival and at the age of 40, in despair and with a last hope, she went to church and lit a candle. She silently wept as she sat in the pew and prayed to God and the angels for a child. A year later she had us. When we were told this later in our lives, she said we were the result of a miracle!
Zandra and I were always known as the Hall twins as no one could ever tell the difference to be able to identify ‘ourselves’. We were inseparable as children and never got tired of each other’s company. She, though, was the more studious one who did well in exams whilst I was the daydreamer, who did not.
Identical twins were rare where we lived in the 1940s so we were stared at a lot. Mummy loved it and all through the years until we left home, and for some time after, the local press would follow our lives with updates in the newspapers. Zandra and I hated always being pushed in front of the cameras. Our lives were all in print with photos, ‘the Hall twins’, with write-ups on the latest events of our lives.
The strong bond between us has remained with us all the way through our lives but there is a downside to this. I literally feel my sister's pain. Like the time she had to have an emergency peritonitis operation - I was awake all night in agony.
"At least you had anaesthetic for it!" I told her later.
The weirdest thing though, which still happens to this day, is that when we are together for any length of time and then part our ways, we swap characters on departure. We say our goodbyes, in tears more often than not, and then we are 'in' each other.
Although we look alike, our characters are quite different. Many a time once we are settled back to our own places, we ring each other and say, “Please will you get out of my body?” It is a strange feeling, I speak the way she speaks anyway, and we have the same mannerisms. However, we swap actions, she acts like me and vice versa. This can last for a couple of days or even up to a week, and we always get ourselves back at the same time. So if I don't quite seem myself when I meet you back in England when I'm first home from New Zealand, that may be why. I'm not myself; I'm part Zandra!
Lots of love, Zoë xx
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