Few people in the world speak Ayapaneco- only two people in fact. And those two people, well, they don’t speak to each other.

According to the Guardianthere are only remaining speakers of Ayapaneco, an indigenous language that has been spoken in Mexico for centuries. Though it is not exactly clear why they do not speak, Manuel Segovia, 75, and Isidro Velazquez, 69, live less than one mile apart.

People who know the two say that they have never really enjoyed each other’s company. There is no way to tell if their refusal to speak to each other stems from an actual disagreement, though neither of them would say much about the other.

Daniel Suslak, a linguistic anthropologist from Indiana University, is hoping to collect a dictionary of the Ayapaneco language. From his interviews, he says Segovia can be “a little prickly” and Velazquez is “more stoic,” rarely likes to leave his home.

Suslak says the two last speakers “don’t have a lot in common.”

Reading through their story, I was sad for both these two men. They are literally the last two people on earth who can understand their language, a major mean of expression and yet they refuse to travel one mile to have a conversation.

They may be older men living in Mexico’s tropical lowlands, but the last speakers hold in their silence a lesson for us all. So often, I see women of color who have walls of muteness between them. They see each other, pass each other and say nothing at all. And often, really for no reason at all.

Sometimes breaking down those walls of silence can feel like the journey of a lifetime, even if it is only a few steps away. But it’s important to remember that even in our very separate lives, we share bits and pieces of the same language. The stories, the experiences, we share are often the key to our preservation and mutual uplift.

Today, despite the walls of muteness that have build up over time, seek connection instead.

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  • Alicia G

    Do either of these men have family? If they can’t speak to each other then they could at least speak to younger relatives (toddlers and infants) so they can inherit the language.

  • Tamara

    I wasn’t sure exactly where you were going with this as I read the title…I thought totally on a spiritual side…and yet as I type this I guess you could have been doing just that as well. Immediately after reading this I thought of the “sista” I am on a committee with we are the only two women of color and yet when I have spoken to her I got at best a cold hello..recently I saw her at another function speaking with someone that we mutually knew and lo’ & behold she spoke to me and introduced herself as if we have never sat at a round table together. I wonder what is is about us, her, women, people, people of color that we do that. I remember the first time I met and I thought what is it about you that you would want to walk away leaving another person feeling heavied by your spirit- it took a while for that to shake off of me yet it happens so often, how quick we are to dismiss one another instead of sharing and just smiling at one another. It breaks my heart and leaves me feeling like it’s just not worth it but then I meet a young sister who met me all of 5 mins in a beauty store and immediately she came up to me to say, “Hey, I remember you, from the store (3 months ago), how are you?” And it’s then that I know God is in control- same day 1 sista expressing her cool love for me and another sista genuine in her love- it all balanced out that day, but how many days do we do this to each other before we stop – do we life our lives and die this way – or do we intentionally with purpose find a common ground on which to commune? I don’t have the answers for all but for me it’s that I find a common ground on which to meet you and embrace you and hopefully you in turn feel the same.