A Gentle Giant
When I first moved over to London and in with Mensah I came with a suitcase and a couple of boxes. Most of it were clothes and none of it were decorative objects, paintings or framed photographs. I was travelling “light”, as light as a Portuguese woman travels, I guess. So when we moved into our first home together, all the artwork was Mensah’s. I liked it all so I was fine with having it on our walls. I did quietly question the three or four framed pictures of Muhammad Ali, though. I have never liked boxing and the mere sight of a match makes me anxious. But these photos somehow were different. They meant something to Mensah and with each passing glance as I fought to dislike them they grew on me too.
When we had our son, the picture that was on the wall in the room that ended up serving as his nursery was one of Ali holding a chubby baby surrounded by a crowd of adoring fans. This was not your average ‘politician/star holds baby for photo opp’. This was real. The strongest man in the world looked like the gentlest of giants, his own baby-like face staring adoringly into this little baby’s eyes. That baby was safe in his mighty arms but he also looked as if suspended in cotton-wool, being held the way most parents will hold their babies, with a mixture of protective instinct, strength and vulnerability. That picture remained right where it was, and our son’s cot went against that wall. It embodied love, spirit, softness, energy, vigor and vulnerability, pretty much the subtitles to the new chapter of our story as a family. A picture of a cute bunny rabbit just wouldn’t have cut it. #RipMuhammadAli