I rarely listen to passersby’s talks while walking on the street and not because I am not curious or am extremely polite. On the contrary, I am very nosy and never ashamed of my wish to eavesdrop any snippet of someone’s conversation. But usually I am pretty absorbed in my own thoughts, and I can’t pay attention to anything else but myself.
But recently, while walking along with my husband who was talking to me and distracting me from myself, I heard something that made me stop and look back. It was a word, ‘Benpayapo’, or that’s how I heard it. A man said this to his five-year-old son, and it wasn’t a name as the boy answered something that I couldn’t decipher either. It was Spanish, and I speak a little bit of Spanish, so I should have understood a couple of simple words, but I didn’t. I was sure it was something very basic as what else can you expect from a conversation with a little child? Still, mysterious ‘Benpayapo’ was beyond my understanding.
My husband whose mother tongue is Spanish laughed at my perplexed look and explained, “He said, ‘Ven para allá pues’ which means ‘Come over there, then.’”
I compared two phrases in my head, and they didn’t sound alike, at all. “Are you sure?” I asked.
“I’m sure,” he said.
“So, he just swallowed a half of every word? It’s like ‘Covetheren’ in translation.”
“Well, yes, this is how he pronounced it. But he meant, ‘Come over there, then.’”
“How am I supposed to guess what he meant if he doesn’t pronounce it clearly?” I was really indignant.
“Well, he wasn’t talking to you, and maybe you shouldn’t listen to other people discussing their own business.”
“Benpayapo,” I said, and I’ve kept saying it since whenever I’m angry and need help of a magical undecipherable curse. “Benpayapo!”