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Hearts do break

By Mankhokwe Namusanya:

This one starts on Facebook.

It is not always that people send a message to the inbox as a response to a status. They just like or comment on the status. Then move on to their interesting lives. On this day, I got three. Two from men, one from a lady.

“That status, man, is the truth. It happened to me,” read the messages – paraphrased.

I respond back that bad things happen. The good thing is that, if we are strong, we survive and smile again. I add to all:

“I hope you are smiling again.”

Then, I ask one if he wants to tell me his story. Because, somehow, I feel as if I am a messenger of the most high. Sent to tell a story of a heartbreak in the month of love.

I give him my number. Ask him to reach out. Via WhatsApp. But 24 hours pass with no response. My message? Seen but just ignored. Like a bad memory.

I want to give up. Yet, something inside pushes strong that I text the other man:

“You want to tell your story? I want to hear it. Text me on (insert number). I will call.”

In minutes, my phone buzzes. It is not even a text. It is a call. We talk briefly and agree to meet.

And when we meet in the harsh weather of Blantyre, I meet with a gentleman older than me. Wanting to talk about a heartbreak. I am intimidated for a moment. And paranoid.

I like (d) to think that heartbreaks are for young people. Like, you are 17 and you meet this sweet, lovely person. You spend all your waking moments thinking about them. Your sleeping hours are spent on dreaming about them. Then, one day they just come and say you are not ‘vibing’. They feel another person. There, your heart breaks. You think you will never again heal. You think you will die. Or you actually really die. Emotionally.

However, this one is in his mid-30s.

And you really would think that at 30, life is figured out. Like you are even able to laugh at the idiocy of teenage years when you thought you would die from a heartbreak. Like, you are even in a good place and want to call that monster that broke your heart and say (while laughing):

“You thought I would never forget you. Look, I forgot you. I found true love. I just called to let you know that I am deleting your number. Rot in hell.”

Then, you pick up your child (She is at that crawling stage so she likes to crawl next to dad). Throw her up. Make funny faces at her. She laughs. Your heart melts. Your wife watches from the corner. Smiling. Gobsmacked. Her once broken heart healed as well.

But, he says no. It is not like that.

“There is no point where your heart fails to break when it is broken. The thing is I loved her so much. And, I was taken by a surprise…”

I interrupt him at that. I tell him there were signs he saw but somehow he ignored them. That no heartbreak is ever a surprise.

“Now, in retrospect, I see that there were the signs. Back then, I thought it was all normal. Like the fights, I thought they were all part of a relationship. Her not really mouthing that she loved me, I just thought it was because we had stayed far too long in the relationship and had gotten comfortable. Her frustrations; I thought it was a female thing…”

I want to again interrupt him and say that is sexist but at this time he is a loose cannon. Firing from all cylinders. Just talking. And talking. And, talking. The way a person who feels offended after a heartbreak does.

He tells of the sacrifices he made for her. The countless hills he climbed just to see her happy. The losses they had together. The gains. The fears. The aspirations. The plans. The hopes. He makes it sound so sad that I can feel his sadness taking the empty seat next to him.

“For how long have you been apart?”

“It’s three months now and the pain still feels fresh and raw. There are times I recover from it, or think I have recovered from it, then, again, the emotions come torturing, and inflicting pain on, me. You know that type of pain on me which eats at you on the inside while the shell outside is one big normal thing?”

I say yes, I know that pain. I know that pain of a heartbreak – except I do not know how it feels like in your 30s (I do not say the last part after the hyphen).

I ask him if he has moved on. He says he has not but his ex has already – actually, had already before she even left.

“Like how do you even do that, move on while still in a relationship?”

I say this and that just to create the impression I have responded. I can see the pain of the heartbreak sweeping through him all over again. More like the first time.

I wish I could say something – just anything – to make him feel better. I realise words are empty. And just meaningless.

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