I was having an affair with a guy who was in a broken relationship. I’d never pictured myself as the mistress-type. I always imagined a mistress to be a particular type of woman – either a patient wallflower or a selfish home-wrecker. I don’t believe that I’m like either of those.
But I was a girl involved with a guy that I absolutely adored. What the future held for us, I didn’t know. And, I didn’t allow myself the luxury of day-dreaming about it too much.
My relationship with Teboho started as an innocent friendship. We were res mates. He was in a relationship and I was single. He helped me navigate my first few months at varsity, when everything (including changing a course) threatened to overwhelm me. He was my mentor, my shoulder to cry on. We would sometimes hang out outside the residence as we’d discovered a shared love of taking walks.
I always felt relaxed in his company, even though I saw him as my leader. Like a love-struck teenager I looked forward to talking to him, because he was such a great conversationalist. And, it also didn’t hurt that I was physically attracted to him. I sometimes felt like the feeling was mutual but I was never hundred percent sure. It would be weeks before either of us acted on it.
When we started hanging out, we’d discuss and debate academic issues. But then we’d switch weird gears and discuss whatever other topics caught our fancy. A favourite topic was his late son. He was a father, and I was a self-confessed ‘daddy’s girl’.
Our conversations generally centred on his anxieties about his son and his own inadequacies as a father and then my views as a daughter.
As we got to know each other better our conversations became more personal. He’d regale me with stories about his disastrous dating escapades, his ex-girlfriends and his ambitions to find Mrs Right and settle down.
As our conversations become more intimate, he told me about his current relationship, about the ups and downs, the scary bits and the funny times. I told myself that I should just enjoy this emotional connection with him, as the physical part just seemed like a fairy tale.
I innocently said to him, “You guys are good and happy together.”
He turned to me with a serious look on his face and said, “Two may talk together under the same roof for many years, yet never really meet. And, yet two others at first sight are old friends.”
Four months into our friendship and people started to make assumptions about us dating. So we decided to spend time apart for a while, until things were OK. We did keep in touch and spoke to each other at least twice a week. We continued to meet at least every fortnight. He began to share his thoughts, anxieties, frustrations, hopes and dreams about everything with me. And I began to understand him better.
I felt like I was his confidante. And, I realised after a while that we were now involved in an “emotional affair”, even if it had not got physical.
I became emotionally dependent on him. He was my lifeline on a bad day. I always felt so much better after talking to him. We began to think of each other as more than friends and contemplated the possibility of a physical affair but we were afraid to bring this suggestion to life. Fate, however, would take its own course.
After watching the movie ‘Meet Joe Black’ together one evening, we were saying goodbye to each other for September recess. We had a moment where we stared at each other. Then he announced, “I’m going to kiss you.”
It took me 48 hours to come back to earth after that kiss… and, I landed with a thud.
A week after that I ended our relationship. I told him we couldn’t see each other. I implored him – with my guilty conscience – to remain faithful to his girlfriend. Ending things between us felt like the right thing to do.
It didn’t matter that I had feelings for him, or that he was the first person I though of in the morning and the last person I thought about when I went to sleep at night. It didn’t matter that he said that he loved me. After two weeks of no contact of any kind, I relented and returned one of his missed calls. He said he was happy for us just to be friends. So was I, until I realised I was tired of fighting my feelings.
Despite my mixed feelings, what I really wanted was to be with him, with Tebogo. So, eventually I threw caution to the wind and told him that we could try… I didn’t have to elaborate: he knew what I was talking about.
That was a few weeks ago. Since then we’ve embarked on a discrete affair. We’ve communicated just as much as before, but we see each other more often. I was aware that I was squeezed into his schedule but he did make an effort to be with me.
I knew that the only way the relationship would end would be if I ended it, which is what I tried to do, but unsuccessfully.
I ended it on the premise that I wanted more… which, of course, he couldn’t give to me. But, after a week apart, we ended up together again. He came to my room. We weren’t sure where to go from there. What we knew was that we wanted more in the relationship that just stolen moments. But until we had decided what to do next, we just muddled on through the affair.
He wanted to tell his girlfriend, but I stopped him from doing that due to exams and the personal problems that she was going through. But that didn’t stop him from popping into my room, not caring whether anyone saw or not.
He had been writing his last exam, which was giving him problems. We took a walk to Pick ‘n Pay and I was asking him how it had gone. He said: “I’m hoping for the best but expecting the worst.”
I held on to those words.
On Friday he invited his cousin over and introduced me to him. They went to a club later and came back at 3am in the morning. That day he was the happiest person at res. He called me and said that he was going to cook and that I must go and have supper with him later.
I was surprised as he was no fan of cooking – he always got takeaways.
Around 10pm he called me to his room. We ate off the same plate – as we did normally. As we ate he spoke to me about his childhood – from the point when he was in Grade 1 right up until the point of where he was that night. And, he spoke about my future, about how he wished he could put me in a bottle – just to be safe from life’s traumas. As he were talking, he made the same announcement as he had in the beginning: “I’m going to kiss you.”
We kissed, then there was a rough knock on the door. Not knowing that death was coming to take him away from me, we just stared at one another for a few seconds. He then jumped up and opened the door – only to find that it was his angry girlfriend. He tried to push the door closed but it was too late. She tried to come towards me but he protected me and so she went out.
He said I should wait for him there and that he’d go to explain everything to her. Then he went after her but as he tried to explain to her what happened, she stabbed him.
After waiting a few minutes for him, I went looking for him – my heart in my throat. As I went down the stairs, I saw a lot of blood. In my heart I knew that it was Tebogo’s blood. I hoped for the best but expected the worst.
I grabbed one of my neighbours from her room and she explained to me what had happened. Seven minutes later, the paramedics arrived and told me that I had lost him – that was the death of him and me.
The whole night long the movie ‘Meet Joe Black’ played in my mind. That movie is the story of our relationship. Joe Black comes back after dying… but I knew that Tebogo would never come back to me.