My cousin died at the age of 56 about a month ago. My siblings and I went up to Detroit for the funeral, where we had a chance to reconnect with childhood friends and old folk who remembered us fondly. My aunt Cynthia, who outlived her firstborn child, was cooling herself with a fan and looking at old photos. A framed picture of her mother, my Aunt Clara, was sitting on the shelf behind me.
“I think about Aunt Clara often,” I muttered.
Aunt Cynthia gave me a look, as though she didn’t believe me.
“I do!” I reasserted.
Aunt Cynthia chuckled. “She was really sweet, wasn’t she?”
“Oh gosh, yes. SO sweet. And so…quiet. Was she always like that?”
Aunt Cynthia made a sound that resembled a small train warning pedestrians to clear the way. It was a half roar, part whistle.
“My mother would cuss you out in a heartbeat. She smoked like a chimney. Smoked them cigarettes they rolled before there were filters.”
I was incredulous. Not my sweet, sainted, fair-skinned Aunt Clara!
Aunt Cynthia was ruthless in her mockery. “When you meet my mother, she was old. She had done all that craziness and left it behind by the time you got here.”
My interest was now piqued, and Aunt Cynthia was only happy to let me in on a few choice family secrets and divulge some shocking details of her mother’s life. I wished there were pictures or footage of all the events she talked about. And then, that’s when it occurred to me – I should probably leave some footage for my (great) grand kids to browse through as well. Well, surely they’d be interested in their ancestor, wouldn’t they? Well then, I ought to do something about that!
I made a public declaration on Facebook about my intent to create a photo album of all the places I’d been and all the feats I’d attempted. Good Lord willing, I too will have the opportunity to meet great-grandchildren and great-nieces and nephews, and if they love me half as much as I loved my Aunt Clara, I would want them to know that I was more than some old lady with huge breasts who is plagued with a chocolate and coffee addiction. I want them to look through this album and know that neither weight, nor age, gender, nor marital status or childbirth should impede their ability to get out there and attempt the unimaginable. None of those things should mean you can’t properly live, despite what the culture tells us.
Now, this album I am building is a little self-serving as well, because building it feeds into my pipe dream of becoming a travel journalist a la Anthony Bourdain or that cute, bubbly blonde chick with the pixie cut on PBS. Not Rick Steves. Gosh, he’s so dull. I’d rather watch my toenails grow than listen to him narrate a trip through the canals of Venice.
I shared my vision with MX5, who immediately dedicated to praying towards its fruition. She even came up with a name for my show: See the world from the bosom of Africa.
Check it out. So my bra size is 36HH, right? This makes it the perfect place in which to conceal a camera to record my travels and encounters with the globe. Like “Ooh, look! I’m here at the top of this volcano and the only way to get down is to repel from its craggy edge. Won’t you join me and look at the world from the bosom of Africa?”
“Hey! I’m out here in Petra, Jordan where we’re filming Akua Ananse and the Last Ball of Kenkey. Won’t you join me and look at this exotic location from the bosom of Africa?”
Because it’s my bosom, and I’m African and my big breastesses will capture every thrilling moment. See? Of course you do. It’s brilliant. And if you see this show/concept on the Travel Channel feature some skinny half-co chick with a weave, know that you heard it hear first chalk it up to discrimination against fat chicks.
Here are some of my favorite moments from my travels over the last few years. As I looked through these images, I realized (again) how very blessed and fortunate I’ve been to visit these places and do half the things I’ve done. I’m looking forward to doing much more…and if I could be so bold, I urge you to step out of your comfort zone and create a precious memory for those who will follow after you. It doesn’t have to be cliff diving or shark wrestling (although that would be fantastic) but it should be noteworthy. Why should somebody else be your grand baby’s hero? Why shouldn’t your name be remembered with awe?
If you know anyone casting for a new travel host, don’t be afraid to send them my information. I will now entertain any questions, the first of which I am sure will be “Malaka, what is WRONG with you???”