I have a dream, but I see it as more of a fantasy. I do not think it will ever actually happen, or Where it Could actually happen. It’s possible to want things without believing in them, or to want things while knowing you probably should not, and so will not, have them. This should all be kept in mind as I explain my dream.
I want to be a matriarch.
I want to have six children, and I want each of those children to grow up sustainably happy and healthy. I want each of my six children to have eight children, who grow up sustainably happy and healthy as well. Those forty-eight grandchildren, I would prefer for them to each have 5 children of their own, but at that point it’s really anyone’s game. You can have more, or less, or none at all. That is the first part.
When I am eighty-three years old, I want to have been living in a house with a porch in a neighborhood that is friendly and full of children. Children of all ages, even teenagers, running around and hanging out outside. They’ll pass by my house, where I’ll be sitting out on the porch, and I’ll call out to the children. Don’t picture a kindly old grandmother who knits and is sickeningly sweet. Picture a wry, spry old lady who sees children getting into nonsense and calls them out on it. At least one teenager will have thrown up on my lawn from drinking too much. I’ll have taken hir inside, cleaned hir up and given hir tea, then watched hir ironically each day since. I’ll tell all the children, all the people in the neighborhood about themselves, and because I’ll be the oldest person around and people will still respect their elders, they’ll just have to take it. I’ll call out to people, tell them about themselves, and tell them stories that don’t always seem quite to relate to their situations.
“That crazy old Miss Khalilah,” most of them will mutter to each other, “She doesn’t know what the hell she’s talking about.”
“That Miss Khalilah knows her Shit,” the others will say, and they’ll come by my porch and do logic puzzles and listen to my stories, and on a good day, I’ll give them Snickerdoodle cookies or toffee, or Mandel biscuits.
“Mom, you know you’re not supposed to be eating this food,” my children will tell me when they come to visit. I don’t see myself a skinny old woman. I’m gonna be nice and plump, with a lap big enough to fit one grandchild on each thigh, a body so comfortable that I’ll be able to nap with the little ones, lying simply on the ground and having them use me as a bed. My doctor will tell me I need to lose weight, but as long as I can walk around the block ten times, I won’t listen. Doctors.
“It’s for the kids!” I’ll tell them, and when they aren’t looking, one of my granddaughters will pass me a bag of Twizzlers.
My porch will be big enough to fit half of my family, and the other half will spill out into the yard, in upstairs bedrooms, by the grill. I’ll host reunions, and cook all types of food. Manioc, Dutch eggs, Scotch eggs, doro wat, burgers, chicken, cornbread, fried fish, ribs, macaroni and cheese, yams, grilled asparagus, pap, cassava, etc etc etc. It will be a feast not just for the family, but for the entire neighborhood, who will cram into the back and front yards. We’ll clear a space after dinner, and blast African music (contemporary and classic), and all of the family members will battle it out. It won’t matter if I’m the best dancer or not; at my age, everyone will be so impressed I can still move, I’ll always have the biggest bills stuck to my forehead.
Of course everyone will be invited, but everyone will also be encouraged to buy tickets for the event. I’m thinking something like $10 a family, maybe $15, which is great considering all the food and entertainment. It’s not even like that money could really cover the expenses of the reunion and guests, but that’s okay. I don’t want it for myself. I’ll just keep the money, and my dancing winnings, in a separate bank account as a scholarship fund. Each year, all my college-age grandchildren will have to write an essay about the topic of my choosing. The writer of the essay I most appreciate will receive money, which will be awarded after the dance contest. My grandchild will read hir essay to the entire crowd, I’ll present the envelope (which won’t actually have money in it. This is purely ceremonial. One time, my dad gave me a check. The next morning, he found it in the sink, along with my dishes. There hadn’t even been anything particularly distracting going on that night, and I was still scatterbrained. Knowing myself, and the Khalilah-offspring I’m likely to produce, there’s no way I’m giving out scholarship money in the middle of a Lushiku Family Reunion) and then everyone will go back to dancing and chatting and playing games, long into the evening.
“That old Miss Khalilah may be crazy, but she sure throws fun parties,” the majority of the neighborhood will say.
And the next day, when it’s just my six children; forty-eight grandchildren; however many great-grandbabies; and whatever other family members, extended and immediate are around my porch and house, I’ll come downstairs and pass around all the sweets my children wish I would stop eating. I’ll push one of my younger grandchildren over on the porch bench, sit and clasp the littlest of the bunch in my lap, and look happily around at my legacy. I’ll take some Twizzlers out of my pocket and gnaw at them for a minute with the few good teeth I have left, then swallow and begin to tell a story.
My dream. Fantasy.