Dia de Saudades

Saudade has been called one of the most difficult words to translate in the world. 30 de Janeiro is Dia de Saudades in Brasil: roughly translated, “the day of remembrance” or “the day of longing,” but these brief translations trivialize the word and its meaning.

A childhood memory of a summer’s day. The hottest day of the year, when you climbed a tree to escape the unrelenting sun. There, in the shade, you ignored your mother’s calls to come home, instead savouring the brief respite from the oppressive heat. You were thirsty, though, and rather than climb down and go home to do chores, you reached out into the branches before you. You didn’t recognize the little yellow fruits, you’d never seen them at the market before. But driven by thirst or curiosity or simply by your naive lack of wiles, you bit into it. It burst into flavour on your tongue, quenching your thirst, juicy and tart and sweet, the taste of summer, the taste of home, the taste of childhood.

No matter how many loquats you eat in adulthood, nothing will ever taste like that again. Even if you could somehow go back in time and taste that exact fruit again, it would never taste the same, because the memory of your first loquat has been tempered by decades of experiences, placed into perspective by a lifetime of sadness and love and loss and victory and accomplishment and friendship and grief and wonder.

The place in your soul where this memory lives, that is saudade.

Leave a Reply