The Power Motive 3
Mixed media on paper, A3, 2021
Hearing the cashiers giggle as I walk away after having received an insufficient funds notice while trying to buy a R6 packet of biscuits is the pits. It’s not like I didn’t know I was out of money, but I looked and relooked at my balance and thought, at least I could fit in a last packet of cheap biscuits. I was wrong. And I tried twice. The message was displayed twice on the screen in red: Insufficient Funds. Plus that shop is where I shop. I live down the road and I’m there all the time. I have to say I’m glad it’s the first time it’s happened, but it still was humiliating. Hunger is humiliating.
I have been asking myself this question whether I enjoy being humiliated. So many of my life choices and habits would indicate this. Not the least of which is this debacle with Oskar. I mean, I’m thirty-four years old for fucks sake. He must have thought this himself as well. How old she is! Coming here and crying by me when she is so old. Here, that must be what Asher thought too. The two boys who rejected me and broke my heart when I wanted them so bad. Both had smirks on their faces as I recall as they twisted the knife. They seemed to really enjoy it. If I were an average person, I would chalk it up to flattery. Perhaps they were just glad to be liked, loved, adored. Who wouldn’t smirk? But I saw something much more sinister, particularly in Oskar’s case. I was standing right in front of him, our faces were very close and I felt the contempt – yes now in retrospect, I’m sure it was contempt, seething from his pale face.
On one hand, he seemed in the morning to wake up with a look as if he’d seen a ghost. This made me nervous, but I tried to stay calm and play the same comforter role I’d played the night before. He spent much of the evening confiding in me about his upbringing. How drunk his father would get, coming home in a drunken stupor often or not coming home at all. He seemed tormented by this and with good reason. The pain I saw in his eyes drew me in so deeply so that I couldn’t help but offer my shoulder for him to cry on. I say, he was really very close to tears and I honestly felt for him.
This was the part that affected me the most. The sight of this poor boy, so sad and trusting a stranger with his sadness. And when he talked about his own addiction I couldn’t help but think this must be connected to his father. I didn’t say it. I thought for sure I’d have time. Not necessarily to tell him this, but to be there as he discovered it himself. When we went back to his place, it was that Oskar I was trusting in return. I allowed him custody of my body because he too had left himself vulnerable in my hands.
Little did I know I would be greeted in the morning with a most sinister and sadistic smile. The kind of sadism that isn’t fun. That isn’t games. So humiliated was I that I was used and discarded by this man that even when the cashiers at Spar huddled together and laughed at me when I didn’t even have R6 to scrape together, my heart was just throbbing from the pain of Oskar. The pit in my stomach was from the pang of loving him still, so deeply. And not from the fact that I hadn’t eaten in days.