The women in my family, used to have male-mistresses. My grandmother, great aunts, my mother and my aunts used to have trusted men that worked for us / house help, to keep themselves sated sexually. It was a different time when the women in my family were not allowed to work, and mostly were lonely with their husbands abroad or at work somewhere.
I was brought up in a well-to-do upper caste household in India. Belonging to an upper caste meant that the women had more rigid restrictions that curtailed our freedom than anyone else.
As was tradition at the time, we had a joint family. Our house had to accommodate the many uncles, aunts, cousins etc. I had and hence was a labyrinth of rooms and passageways with multiple entries and exits.
Living in such a house meant that personal privacy was in effect non-existent and everyone was aware of what happened in the other bedroom.
As a teen living against this backdrop, it was difficult to figure out initially why I would sometimes see my dad‘s driver coming out of my aunt’s bedroom, or our gardener from my mom’s room. I was all the time intrigued by what I saw, understanding that it was something they wanted hidden, but not understanding the underlying meaning of it.
A clearer understanding of it all came to me much later, when I was an adult.
I lost my virginity to my dad‘s driver and at the time, protection and contraception was not a prevalent practise in India, especially among the lower economic strata. I all the time wondered I was clever in hiding my affair with him and I never thought how or why I did not get pregnant.
Except every woman in my family, including my grandmother, knew what I was doing. They just considered it a natural passage for me from my teens into adulthood. They were the reason the man used protection with me. They played dumb with me for years, up until my marriage, to hint that they knew all about my “affair” with the driver.
After the initial embarrassment, it was my aunt that I pestered to know more about all of this as I was closer with her than my mom and I considered her more of a friend than family. She let me in on everything, bit by bit.
I came to know about how my grandmother used to have multiple men to satisfy her. I understood how all the women in our family helped each other hide it from their husbands. Some male members, who grew up watching their mom or aunt’s with others like me, knew about what was happening but they let it be. She did not know when it began, but It was almost an open secret, which has now become a tradition for the women in my family.
I am 46 now and I do not live in a joint family anymore but I do have an assistant living with me, that helps me with everything, including in my bedroom. The difference is that my husband knows about him. My assistant is also the son of the man who took my virginity. I did not plan on it working out this way, but I do not want it to change now that it is working for me.
I did not support them cheating on their husbands, including my father, but I also could empathize with my mother and aunts, who were married off at an early age, without ever having a choice.