Saudade is a Portuguese term which does not have a direct English translation. It refers to a state of melancholy and yearning for something or someone but unlike nostalgia which is defined as ‘a sentimental longing or wistful affection for a period in the past’, saudade can be described as missing something or someone, even if one will see this person or experience this thing in the near future.
Portuguese scholar Aubrey Bell attempts to analyse this elaborate concept in his 1912 book In Portugal, describing saudade as ‘a vague and constant desire for something that does not and probably cannot exist, for something other than the present, a turning towards the past or towards the future; not an active discontent or poignant sadness but an indolent dreaming wistfulness’ (Aubrey Bell)
Saudade still interests me for many reasons - linguistic, sociological, historical and not the least - personal. Saudade is so far the best word to explain the way I felt after I left my favourite place and my home for 7 years - I often think of my life there and sometimes secretly wish that I can go back and be this previous version of me again. Even after 10 years leaving at a different place in a different part of the world, I am still giving into this 'dreaming wistfulness' and my new word falls apart for a moment and I stop being who I am.
‘A ausencia tem uma filha
Bem contra minha vontade’