Saudade

Saudade (pronounced [sɐ.uˈdaðɨ] or [sawˈdaðɨ])
Portuguese for a feeling of longing for something or someone that you love, and which is now lost.

Granddad. 400 year-old home. Ages 7 – now. Running. Breath. Health. Peerlessness. Boundless energy. Fits of giggles. Drinking water from running streams. First real kiss. Roses I grew, just that one time.

Help me with this list.

Yes, you. And you, and you too. It’s ours. It’s belongs to us all. There is more we have in common than we know. Who we used to be. What we long for – sights, sounds, smells. And the places that most let us feel like it was okay, truly okay, to be just ourselves. You know you have this, just like I do. Maybe it takes a little courage to go back there. It does, I know. But what if we held hands? What if I said, “It’s okay! Take the leap. Only thing is, the puddle’s behind you. But come on! Do it. I’m here. I’ve got you. I’ve got your hand in mine. Jump.

Tell me your Saudades and I’ll tell you some of mine.”

Image: Gustav Klimt (La Maternita)

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33 thoughts on “Saudade

  1. Father. Innocence. Yellow Ashoka flowers fallen on the driveway. A gate of bougainvillaea. Javed. Light.

  2. That feeling of awed wonder that swept over me the first time I watched the sunrise; the belief that each new day can bring you a miracle.
    A sense of direction.
    Jumping from rock to rock at the beach without being scared of falling in.
    Innocence.

  3. cricket field, corn fields, tamarind trees, mango grove in pune, now multiplexed.

    passion for living, hope, giving a fuck.

    intimacy. hand-holding, looking deep into each others’ eyes intimacy.

    the ability to finish a book in a couple of hours.

    sobriety.

  4. Mother.

    Saying sorry for locking her in the kitchen.

    To show her that now I know how to drive and she doesn’t have to take rikshaw or wait for dad.

    To be able to show her that after 10 years..things have changed a lot.

  5. Writing in my journal everyday. Writing for my self. Focus. Self belief. Nice legs. Being able to swim laps endlessly. 2002-2006 with my husband.Living next door to childhood friends who turned out to be very cool adults. Living by the sea. Lovemaking drowning out the Bombay monsoon. (A time when I wouldn’t have much to add to this list because I felt too content with the present to give a damn about what I’d lost. There was a time like that and I know when)

  6. A lack of responsibility. An ignorance of mortality. Raising a baby crow. Being able to sing. The Goa that existed when I was a kid. Adventure. Feeling like I have potential.

  7. happiness, sound sleep, a light heart, laughter, the time to read, patience, my way with words, impromptu motorcycle rides, long scrabble sessions, walks and long talks, brown eyes, my soul mate, love, the will to live.

  8. Mahinn,there is another side, to this, thank you. You just reminded me of the things that mean what they mean to me now, and I realised there’s things I do now that if they went away, I’d long for, forever. Made me love them, and appreciate them again and more. You clever person.

    1. I think any concept like this will come enveloped in a shroud of learning that one can take away. The idea of saudade, I’m sure, is not only to create pathos and indulge cinematic style nostalgia, but also to suggest gratitude. It is a reminder to not let life’s most tender moments pass you by. No? Kisses to you, Phal.

  9. Age 4, summer, lying on my back in our small back yard, my mother’s roses and huge geraniums forming a dense jungle nearby, staring up at a tree that must be two hundred feet tall, full of migrating birds (it is fall now), singing contrapuntally like a ten-thousand piece choir. The sky is huge, the nearby Boeing wind tunnel provides a background drone as it tests an early prototype of the 747 jumbo jet. Then I am turning over and crawling on all fours into the igloo my brother has built for me (it’s January and he’s back from Saigon). Finally, late in the afternoon I am drying out by the wood-burning stove in our dark basement with the unfinished dirt floor. Dinner, then bedtime, the fire went out, the snow melted, the flowers weren’t as gigantic in subsequent summers, and I’ve heard that the tree has been cut down. Could it have really been that tall? Oh, yes. It still is. I was just there.

  10. The wooden stage in college, where I sang & performed in plays & heard an audience’s applause, long car rides with windows down and the perfect silence shared between two souls, first kisses (of course), the first complete perfect-in-my-eyes-others-be-damned bit of writing, unhurried mornings, that special song that belongs only to you & one other. Close friends not separated by distance. Delhi winter mornings (which, thankfully will come again & again & again)…the lack of cynicism.
    Thanks Mahinn, for reminding me that some of this can be had again. Hugs.

  11. The first kiss on a cold winter evening… hiding on the terrace from our parents…

    Going to the newly constructed and as yet un occupied buildings and pretending we were secret agents..

    More.. lots more..

  12. summer afternoons when everyone slept and we played outside oblivious to the lahore heat. sitting on the terrace watching the rain with my mother. sitting at the back of the car with my brother and sister, while our parents drove us to soo many places. the gushing sound of the river in kalam. an old crumbling school wall, against an overcast sky. the old stones walls of old houses in pindi..before they were all demolished.. the brief hour’s interlude of sunshine in england and joy it brought.. the free falling hopeless first love n that feeling of never needing anything more than that one person..the unquestioned belief. the certainty in yourself..

  13. The vase of lilacs my mother put in my room to celebrate my homecoming. No, the scent of those lilacs in the room. Deep, dark night and no fear of what the darkness contained. The cat gazing frankly into my eyes. Holding my son in my lap, watching a movie together and feeling his excitement and joy. Having all the time in the world for friends. The Thanksgiving I spent all day cooking with Emery, listening to jazz while the snow piled up outside the fogged windows. The time right before the lovemaking. And just after.

    1. Linda, thank you for this. You are poet, I was going to say; (and I have little doubt you aren’t) but another voice tells me that we who revel in our memories, invariably are. Saudades make poets of us all.

  14. Sitting in my room as Kurt Cobain, Henry Rollins and Buzz Osborne opened my eyes to a whole new world of emotions and empathy. The idea that art could be pure. That there was still hope. Naive faith in revolution. The idea that I could be part of the new guard, that I was strong-willed enough to fight.

    1. I get the feeling that a lot of what you say is still very real, very much here and still possible. Good luck. xx

  15. walks down gulmohor-lined sidewalks with my dad; reading the latest nancy drew/hardy boys/enid blyton under guise of doing homework; waiting for my father to call my name when he returned from work; waiting to hear his footsteps in the corridor outside…

  16. That much-older married man, that day and night of tempestuous nothings, and the feeling that now is everything I ever wanted.

  17. Climbing trees as a 7 y.o., I would eye them from the ground, expertly judging placement of branches, potential for how high I might be able to go. Then swing up instinctively, searching hand holds in rough bark. Good trees would carry me up in a fluid stroke, revealing their secrets as I climbed, me always looking up, leaves and sunlight flirting, in constant motion. To get as high up as I possibly could, to the place where the branches would be more fragile and in my perch, and in stillness, I could feel the tree swaying in the breeze. Me, a part of it, swaying too. There was never fear, only joy. The safest of places for me. Each leaf a work of art, a wonder. Always hoping a bird would come and join me on a nearby branch. They never did. But the leaves would sing to me, in gentle rustlings out of silence, and in sudden thrilling crescendos. The whole tree itself would move and groan, an orchestra in full-swing, a symphony in green, blue and brown. And I would sing back.
    Sometimes my mother would come into the yard calling for me but I never answered, and she never looked up.

  18. So much nostalgia flooding back.

    Getting up in the morning in Dubai, watching the garbage truck do it’s crunching every morning.

    Running after Dad as he takes his daily walks through the Karama shopping centre, and we suddenly happen on the chat wallah there, Dad taking his Ragada Pattice and we trying a new flavour everytime.

    Believing in Santa Claus, when we all get our presents, except for my brother, and then seeing his present appear after a few hours, of his bawling.

    Remembering our yearly holidays to Goa, where the lanterns didn’t have bulbs, and the light was a faint yellow.

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