I scrutinized him, pointed out everything I didn’t like about him and still went ahead. I became his mistress.

I had read books about being a mistress, but never did I ever think I would become one, especially to such an egocentric man. I’d watch him walk around and speak so passionately of his Master’s degree, pause a bit to laugh, then move on to talking about how much money he makes in a year.

I can’t recall how many times I rolled my eyes in 60 minutes. I’m sure my eyes were the most exercised part of my body.

He caught my attention when he spoke about knowing artists and having sold a few of his art. For the first time I looked at him and thought I stood a chance in this. I walked up to him after his 60 minutes of, “I am living a colourful life.” I asked to talk to him about being an artist and he told me to email him and he’d tell me when he’d be available. I did that and the email said he’d be available in two months. I tore up the questions I had for him because I wouldn’t be interested after two months.

I could see the unexpected turn this was taking. He called after three days and told me he was available. When I got there, we spoke. I opened up and he quickly offered to “protect” me because life was a challenge and I needed to be shielded. WhatsApp texts became calls, calls became meetings and meetings became sleepovers.

My friends knew about this man, who was twice my age, had a silver band on his left hand and drove an SUV.

I was living my best life.

I could say I was now living a very colourful life. It was evident in the food I was eating, which was from Woolworths and not the Spar brand I bought for myself. It was evident in my weight gain – my jeans became tighter. It was evident in the R700 oil heater that was in my bedroom because I had mentioned how cold my bedroom was. It was also evident by my sudden interest to engage in intellectual conversations, my Gucci bags and the Venda culture.

“We’re in this for your happiness and success,” he’d say this every Friday when I came for my sleepover.

I was included in his future plans, he made certain decisions with me in mind and he introduced me to his friends. He made me read books on art and taught me more about art, he played me music and begged me to bleed on the A1 paper. He bought me my favourites every Saturday and my first portrait, which I still look at, reminds me of him even though it’s been two years since our break up.

I did not see any of this as sexual transactions but the truth is, they were all sexual transactions. I gave him sex in exchange for everything I was getting from him. This includes the flu medication he brought me at 21:00 because I couldn’t study, the trip we took to Cape Town and the help I got from him.

Being with him meant getting goose bumps whenever someone expressed their disgust in women who dated married men; or slept their way to the top; wrecked homes; made the wife back home cry because the husband was busy entertaining a filthy, skinny whore and a gold digger. I was that woman.

I was the woman who made the husband reject calls of a six-month pregnant wife because our rule was: “Remove the wedding band and respect my presence enough not to answer calls from your wife.”

I was the woman who was younger than his first two children. I was the woman his friends asked about because the wife was not as interesting, young, sexy and educated as myself. I was the woman who made him think he was polygamous even when he was not because I was the woman of his dreams. I was the woman he wanted to buy a car for, even though his children had to show him how much they deserved a car. I was the woman of his dreams because we connected. We had the same interests and I was young enough to revive the spark when it needed to be revived.

To this very day, two years after our break up, I refused to stop using protection and got an implant. I do not regret being a mistress because I lived, I experienced love, I got my first portrait and I started enjoying having to bleed for everyone else to witness. Sometimes you need to make the worst decisions to get the best outcomes.

I was the mistress and he was my once in a lifetime, who taught me how to live.


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