When I was a child, I had a little jewelry box. It had a wind-up music box in it. When you wound the key and then opened the box, a plastic ballerina danced around in a circle and the music box played a waltz entitled “Fascination.”
I had no idea of the song lyrics. I just liked the melody. Years later, I bought a CD of a Brazilian singer, Elis Regina. On the CD was the song “Fascination,” sung in Portuguese. I don’t speak Portuguese, but the song was still lovely.
I googled the lyrics. It was about moonlight and romance, stolen kisses and brief touches, and love.
The other day, I heard a woman singing in Portuguese. Languages have always “fascinated” me. Portuguese sounds like a mixture of French and Spanish to my ear. I didn’t know the name of her song, but it was a romantic jazz ballad. Interpreted from my knowledge of Spanish, I caught the words heart, love, and soul.
I was reminded of the time, in Santiago, that I went to Los Dominicos handicraft village. I was in a jewelry shop, talking with the sales clerk in Spanish, when a group of Brazilian women came in.
One of them was particularly interested in a ring that was for sale. She approached the sales lady and started speaking to her in Portuguese.
The clerk couldn’t make out anything that she was saying, but crazily enough, I could understand her. She told us that she visits Chile every year, that she wanted a different stone in the ring, and that she would come back again before she left Chile to check with the owner of the store about changing out the stone.
The Brazilian woman did not understand English, but for some reason, she could understand my Spanish better than the Spanish of the sales clerk, so I acted as her translator from Portuguese into Spanish.
When the Brazilians left the store, the clerk asked me, “Do you speak Portuguese?”
“Not a word.”
“But you understood what she wanted.” Her eyes were wide, staring at me. “You must have some knowledge of it.”
“Only in love songs. ‘It was fascination, I know…'”