CHEGA DE SAUDADE- “enough homesickness”

(A dedication to my grandmother Judith)

Saudades is a “nostalgic remembrance and at the same, smooth, from distant or extinct people or things, accompanied by the desire either of seeing or possessing them again.” It carries a Fatalist tone and repressed knowledge that the object of the longing might never really return.

Along the centuries and still today the word saudades has become one of the most recurrent expressions concerning Portugal, and carries enormous value to its literature and cultural history. The first attempt made to define saudades was made by the King Duarte he defines it as saudades is precisely the feeling that the heart fails because it is apart from the presence of something or some persons whom it loves very much by affection which gained interest in many other Portuguese.

Saudades is different from nostalgia. In nostalgia one has a mixed happy and sad feeling a memory of happiness but sadness for its impossible return and sole existence in the past. Saudade is like nostalgia but with the hope that what is being longed for might return, even if the return is unlikely or distant in the future to be almost of no consequence to the present. One might make a strong analogy with nostalgia for one had loved someone who has died, whilst saudades is a feeling that one who has loved one and currently is not present or disappeared the longing continues to exist. It is anguishing experience, and anxious feeling of the undetermined future.

Back home in Mozambique saudades plays an important part of Mozambican culture. It is very family oriented, and is expressed through music and dining, as well as story telling. It might be the topic of discussion after the table has been set with Portuguese dÄcor, wine and table settings. Dinner and music is most usual- such as Fado music, Fado meaning a fate or destiny. The music will play in the backdrop with feelings of unassailable determinism, which compels the resigned yearning of saudade. The family and guest will all sit around over fruity light tasting wine and discuss family, past, love and trials.

I am twenty years of age now and my Saudades is stronger then ever. My yearning for something distant like the smell of salty ocean water, like, the taste of fresh chopped coconut at my Tia Odetes house (life is savory). The sound of the morning prayer, as I wake (life is sacred). The feeling of my tia Orlandas funny-feeling upholstery. Like seeing my grandmother rest her eyes on a hot Sunday afternoon (life is precious) the blue rings around her aged wise eyes still remain vivid in my memory.

I stared into my grandmother’s eyes she stared and yelled in disbelief calling to God (moments are holy), tears rolled down her face she asked “why now? Why so long?” (time waits for no one) I couldn’t answer. She made me laugh she made me cry she made me angry and she made me joyful. I was tired from being overwhelmed but my soul felt at peace.

I am away from my families village Segunda Familia of Quelimane- Zambezia region. I feel a slight unsettledness as if a part of me is missing- will that memory, feeling, persons ever return? The future looks bleak this is SAUDADES. My saudades travels far and wide from childhood till now. Life as a nomad carries many frailties. Memories of childhood like my grandmothers blue quaint house in Mozambique (home is never far), and the taste of sweet papaya from her tree (life is fruitful). My grandfathers graveyard on Samora Machel Avenue, the feeling is distant, we pay respect with flowers and prayers (life is eternal).

Whenever my family writes me a letter the end caption will always be “Muito saudades minha filha”. I wonder “does it ever end?” Saudades carries a fatalist tone that is common amongst many cultures and people. That is acknowledged, I also feel it is kind of what we strive for, to complete that missing part of our humanly existence, to fill that particular void. I am entitled to this feeling more then ever, it always be here, in different circumstances. When I did return to my village in hot steamy month of march earlier this year, I was curious of my very settled feeling in Segunda Familia, now today I am unsettled anxious, and far from home. I know when I return back one day the first words that will be spoken will be “Chega de Saudade” Enough homesickness (you are home now).

Cassi A. Gibson



  1. 1 SLJ December 6, 2008 at 10:20 pm

    this is a beautiful piece!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s



%d bloggers like this: