After Abednego Maina tried for months to get the attention of the woman he was sure was the love of his life to no avail, life lent him a helping hand in the most unpalatable of ways. He unexpectedly got arrested during a random police swoop in his hometown. Only then was Lilian Kagunya roused from her slumber to the realisation that she had feelings for the businessman. Four years later, the couple celebrated their marriage. They share with ESTHER AKELLO their journey of finding each other and later tying the knot.
We all have that one friend who everyone is sure has a crush on you but you swear for the umpteenth time that there is absolutely nothing going on there. That was Lilian Kagunya in 2011 and the friend in question was one Abednego Maina whom she had met at a Bible study fellowship group in Kikuyu town, Kiambu County.
“As far as I was concerned, it was a regular meeting. No sparks, lingering looks, or anything that made the meeting particularly memorable,” explains Lilian.
It was different for Abednego. “I knew from the onset she was the one and even confessed to a friend that I would pursue her,” he says. And pursue her he did, except Lilian never seemed to notice his efforts, or as she puts it, “He wasn’t doing a very good job of being ‘spotted’ by me.”
At least that’s what she thought until one day while visiting her grandmother in Gilgil when Abednego unwittingly pulled the mother of all moves.
“Although by then Abednego and I had become really good friends, it was nothing remotely close to a romantic relationship. One evening while in the middle of a phone conversation, we got disconnected. A few minutes later, Abednego sent me a one word text message that read ARRESTED,” says Lilian.
According to her, what happened next is almost comical. She became distraught. Almost too distraught for someone who claimed Abednego was just a friend. “I panicked and called most, if not all, of his friends. No one knew anything about the arrest and I had to wait until morning when finally Abednego explained that he had been caught up in a police swoop,” says the 24-year-old business lady.
Her profound concern towards Abednego’s arrest opened her eyes to her feelings to the man she claimed was just a friend. That same day, Lilian packed her things from Gilgil, headed back to Kikuyu and went straight to Abednego’s house and their relationship was born. Not one to waste time, Lilian told Abednego that she was ready to settle down. While Abednego had no reservations about marrying Lilian, circumstances were not ideal and his answer was a firm no.
“Lilian had just finished high school and lack of funds had discouraged her from even thinking about college. Meanwhile, I was a motorbike operator during the day and an accounts student in the evening. We barely had money for dates, let alone a wedding and a marriage,” says the 31-year-old businessman adding cheekily that often times their dates were simple motorbike rides in their hometown and peripheral towns.
Moreover, Abednego’s vision of how they would usher their life together as husband and wife was a tad different. “A traditional wedding was never going to be enough for me. I wanted to give Lilian a white wedding and all that comes with it,” he explains.
In 2013, their resilience paid off and the couple, who were done with their studies, started a horticultural greenhouse farming business and resumed talks of their wedding and marriage plans. However, after an engagement in February 2015, the couple was unable to decide on a wedding date.
“Every time the business faced a hurdle, we were forced to inject some cash which we had been saving for the wedding. When we postponed the wedding a third time, we decided enough was enough. We agreed to do a small, inexpensive wedding,” explains Lilian
Thankfully, their fortunes did not deteriorate any further. On September 5, 2015, with a budget of Ksh 350,000 and in front of 500 guests, they exchanged their vows. Both the church service and reception were at Alliance Girls High School grounds.
Their advice to other couples: “Always look at your partner’s potential and not their pocket,” says Lillian. Abednego adds, “While patience and growth is important, don’t use it as a hindrance to achieve your goals. Be flexible with both your plans and expectations of each other.”
Published in September 2016