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Saudade

Never, before a few hours ago, had I heard of the word 'saudade'. I haven't been sleeping too well the past few weeks and so have been staying up late and have been watching the BBC3 (or is it 4?) series on RKO films and after knowing more about Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers than anyone could ever need to know in any number of lifetimes, tonight it was the turn of Orson Welles' and one of, if not the best film ever made, Citizen Kane. Before the film I watched the dated documentary and for one interview they go all the way to Brazil, to interview one of the people involved with the film, a man Orson Welles became friends with. And this man said that Welles left, leaving him a silver cigarette case, inscribed, and he treasured it. But one night, after drinking too much, he left it in the back of a taxi. And he said it was all he had left of that time. And he used the word 'saudade', and then moved onto the next sentence, yapping on. Then the unseen interviewer stops him and asks: what does that mean, saudade? And the man says that it has no English equivalent, or something, and then he says, if it has to be translated, it would mean a longing; a loss. Nostalgia. I looked it up. On Wikipedia it is defined as being a "vague and constant desire for something that does not and probably cannot exist,... a turning towards the past or towards the future. A stronger form of saudade may be felt towards people and things whose whereabouts are unknown, such as a lost lover, or a family member who has gone missing." It's an incredibly poignant word. I watched the documentary to the end, then the first hour of the film before turning it off, feeling that sleep was beckoning. Except it wasn't. So I opened Nani Power's Crawling at Night and I've reached chapter six - and she's done this thing with the chapter headings, they are lists of items headed under 'menu' (it's a novel soaked in sushi and sake, you have to read it) and what's on the chapter six menu? Saudade! And directly underneath is its Japanese equivalent Natsukashii. Why is that, when we see a new word, learn what it means, then see it everywhere? So, that's the word of the week: SAUDADE. Or Natsukashii. Use it wisely.

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