“Almost all of you will have your hearts broken at least twice before you can find love worthy of the name,” Lillian said with very little concern or emotion.
The room burst into laughter and she took a momentary pose to wait the laughter out.
Her face showed she was serious even though she was smiling.
At the time, she was the assistant dean of students at Egerton University, in charge of Counselling and Student Welfare Services. She was the chief facilitator of that training seminar which would also induct us into the peer counselling program at the college.
It was early October, and we were half way into the third day of an intensive two-week counselling training program.
Some students by the swimming pool screamed as they dove into the cold water, messing up my concentration from time to time. I wished I could have been right there with them. It looked like fun.
“Could I please see, by a show of hands, how many of you have never been dumped, or have never dumped anyone…” she posed at some point during her presentation.
I thought for a second and raised my hand. Other than Monica and Steve, I was the only one with a raised hand. She walked up to me and stopped for a second to peer into my eyes.
Ericko laughed out loud because he thought I would be subjected to ridicule.
I was not.
“Are you sure of that Kennedy?” she asked in a voice that was calmer than the waters in God’s personal pond.
From my seat I could see how pretty of a lady she was. With a round face, beautiful full lips, a skin tone the color of Cadbury’s chocolate, and a voice that made the presentation very enjoyable
I nodded and she smiled a little then walked away.
You see, to me, it was an interesting topic because I was only 21 years old and had been dumped a total of one time before. Well, it was less of dumping and more of the relationship [if you choose to call it so] running out of runway tarmac – and thus failing to take off…
“Your time will come.” She remarked in my direction as she reached the white board in the middle of that U-formation of seats in the conference hall.
It may as well have been a curse but I did not read much into it. Plus I do not believe in curses and superstitions.
See, at the time I was dating a fresh catch; a girl the height of a basketball shooting guard. She rose right up to the level of my eyeballs. I had first seen her in primary school more than twelve years prior and she had caught my attention, and my desire. So for me, I was living the dream. Dating a girl I had known from childhood. And I believed, at the time, that I was set. That my love life was in check.
I was a young boy enjoying the freedom that comes with college life. Enjoying the ability to meet up with girls and flirt, and whenever God willed, do other things that were less innocent like puffing a joint here and there. We were the blessed ones at the time; and I had a crew of acquaintances with whom to go crazy like most college kids do.
Throughout the remaining hour and a half of her time, Lilian would talk about heartbreaks, and recovering from them; what to do and what to avoid. The training ended and we were inducted into the Egerton University peer counseling program.
And life went on.
Then one day, after an Economic Statistics exam paper, I switched on my phone to find a simple message from the girl I thought I had;
“M gn. Plz dnt cl m evr.”
I tried to call but I was rerouted to voicemail. It was terrible. And frustrating and painful. And disheartening.
I still remember the feeling; it was like somebody had shoved a broken bottle right into my gut and slowly twisted it. It was like every bone in my body had been broken and I had been condemned to a life of pain. My heart felt like it would stop pumping blood at some point and that terrified me more than anything else.
Her best friend would later text me and reprimand me for ‘being a player’.
But where have seen a faithful 21 year old college kid?
The long and short of it is that I finally recovered from the heartbreak. Thanks to the intervention of cheap liquor and the little pleasures of youth. Khamisi and Ericko made sure I was rarely sober for the next three weeks. It was the most painful thing I thought I would ever experience until I had the second heartbreak only two years later.
As I soldiered through the next heartbreak, with a soberer mind, and a clearer view of what I needed to do, I remembered the curse that Lilian had placed on my head on that hot October day… and true to her words, time did tell.
In a very very painful way.