mis·tress (mĭs′trĭs) n
A woman who has a continuing sexual relationship with a man who is married to someone else.
I must have looked that word up in the dictionary a million times. And every time I looked, the meaning hadn’t changed. What was I expecting? That the word would suddenly take on a new meaning? That I would find a way to not classify myself as an embodiment of the word? Or maybe I thought it wouldn’t sound so bad if I looked at it over and over again, that somehow ‘mistress’ would describe someone angelic and good in all of her deeds.
But it didn’t.
And it won’t.
My name is Asher, and I’m a mistress. Of course, Asher isn’t my real name, and if you saw me on the street, you wouldn’t be able to tell that I am what I say I am. I look like your everyday working class girl, who comes from a good home, with lots of great friends, a great job and even better prospects. Oh, and I have the kind of body that stops people in their tracks. Which is probably why I am what I am – the stuff men’s dreams are made of. Unfortunately, this means that I get hit on regularly, by married and unmarried men alike, old and young, fat and trim (and anorexically skinny too) and the occasional lesbian hoping to ‘turn’ me. And I can’t blame them. I was cursed with DD cups, a 29inch waist and 39inch hips. “Jaw-dropping” is how a close male friend of mine once described the whole package; I call it ‘hourglass on steroids’. And that should make me pleased right?
Wrong. I love my body, but I don’t like the attention that comes with it. Sadder still, I don’t have a boyfriend. I never seem to be able to keep one. They always run off because they can’t handle the attention that comes with me. I think deep down, none of them felt they were ever good enough for me and they always expected me to leave them for someone better.
Enter the several married men who have graced the cover of my life over the past 10 years. Now, I bet you’re wondering how old I am. 33 is the lucky number (I certainly am no spring chicken).
I can hear the recriminations in your head – “So early?” you’re asking. “How could you?” you say. “What drove you to it?” “You promiscuous, husband-snatching slut!” you hiss. But none of your thoughts matter. I’ve heard the words before – from wives, wives’ sisters, wives’ friends and a few of my own friends (who certainly aren’t my friends anymore). I’ve also heard them in my own head. They haunt me every day…
So, how is it that I started so early anyway?
It was an accident. And you probably think that’s a stupid excuse. Sounds that way even to me. But I swear, it was an accident. I met him at a language course. I’ll call him Danladi. He worked for one of those multinational oil companies and as part of preparations for a new role outside the country, he had to learn a language. I was out of school and waiting to serve – bloody NYSC was deferred for a year – and I didn’t want to sit around on my arse for a full year doing nothing. My father wouldn’t let me get a part time job but my mum, bless her, knew that I’d go crazy just sitting at home. So she paid for me to go and learn a language.
I had seen him on a few occasions at the course venue. He was usually in early, and sat at the bar downstairs until it was time for classes to start. I noticed him the first time he showed up – dark, handsome and brooding. It was like he didn’t want to be there. I also noticed him because he wore a proper jacket, a crisp shirt tucked into perfectly ironed chinos trousers and shiny wingtips. It was like he dressed for work every day and then as an afterthought, removed his tie (I don’t know if he ever wore a tie though). Every morning, it was the same routine. I’d get to the course venue, he’d be sitting at the bar downstairs, and I’d steal a glance at him then walk right past and go up to my class. I don’t think he even noticed me. He was always so lost in thought.
I wondered what class/group he studied with, cos he wasn’t in mine. And I never saw him when classes ended and all the students were milling about downstairs, talking about nothing. I would look out for him every day the first week and then conclude that he had zoomed off as soon as classes were over. Then I started to leave my class as soon as it was over to see if I’d catch a glimpse of him but I never did. To be honest, I was just curious about him – this quiet guy who didn’t say much to anybody and spent so much time alone. It wasn’t like I was trying to hit on him or anything. I was usually just satisfied with seeing him. Sounds idiotic, but it’s the truth.
Now, when I think of it, I used to wonder in excitement as I got closer to the course venue each morning, whether he’d be there or not. And when I drove in and saw him, I had the same small smile on my face, every day. I guess he became the start of my school day, even if he didn’t know it. Anyway, I gave up on trying to catch him out in the afternoons and contented myself with getting to class early so I could walk past him at the bar. Then one day, my class teacher, after his class was over, approached me and said he needed me to help with a student of his who was struggling to learn. He felt that this student could do better if he had someone who would encourage him by speaking the language with him. So I told my teacher of course, I’d be happy to help. Then he asked me to come with him, and I’m thinking ‘dude, it’s break time and I need to go grab a bite to eat before the next class’ but I went with him anyway.
We go to a part of the school building that I’d never been before and then enter a classroom that I didn’t even know existed. And lo and behold, sitting there all by himself, looking sad as usual, is Danladi. The teacher introduces us and then tells him that I’m one of his best students and that I will be helping him with his learning. I’m standing there, looking cool as a cucumber and feeling the exact opposite! My mind is racing, I’m excited that I get to meet this guy and at the same time, I’m worried that he knows what I’ve been up to every morning, stealing glances at him. Then my teacher explains that he’s in a class of his own because his company paid for private tutorship 3 hours every day. Now, I know why I never see him after classes, cos he finishes earlier than the rest of us. ‘And private tutorship? That’s some fancy shit’ I’m thinking when he stands up and says…
“Hi, Danladi” and stretches out a hand.
I respond with “Hello, I’m Asher. Nice to meet you”. Oh my, he’s tall and even handsomer when he smiles. I scour his face for any sign of recognition. I see nothing.
“Nice to meet you too. Thank you for helping out”
“Not a problem at all. Happy to help” – You mean you haven’t even noticed or seen me around? I walk past you every day! I’m silently screaming with indignation.
“Allors, parlez-vous en francais maintenant!” the teacher breaks into my thoughts, telling us to start speaking in French from then on. And I watch my current subject of interest struggle to make a meaningful sentence with halting words and furrowed brows, all the while keeping an encouraging smile on my face and gently correcting him when he made a mistake.
And that’s how my every day routine changed. From walking past him to my class in the morning, to sitting at the bar with him and chatting – in French of course. From spending break time downstairs with my class mates, to grabbing a snack and running off to his class to spend 30 mins conversing in halting French, with the teacher looking on – of course. And I liked it. I liked that I could help him, I liked that I had made a new friend and I liked that no one knew. It was my little secret where I disappeared to at break time every day. And I guarded it jealously…