I never knew my father wore an amulet. I learned this instead from the Spaniard over the way, whose daughter I regularly, almost daily, was determined to marry -- or at least find out her name.
"I'll call you Silvia," I said.
"Well that's logical -- presumably on account of my long blonde hair and lanky frame," she retorted (actually, she was short, and her hair was black and shoulder-length). "And you probably imagine that, like every Nordic, I'm sexually hard to please."
"Easier than you will ever know."
"Well, I'll call you Silvia, just the same."
"And I'll continue to answer to none of the names you call me -- just the same."
I forget how it was that we started talking about the amulet. I think her father mentioned it in passing; perhaps he said that he used to wear one too, or that wearing one wasn't so unusual in the region he came from. And then I realised that for years I had seen that chain about my father's neck, but, whatever I had reasoned about it, I certainly hadn't ever reasoned that there was anything on the end of it. I think I thought it was rather a silly thing, to be honest.
"Yes, your father was a man of many cultures," the Spaniard concluded. "He was a man of many souls."
I no longer talk to the Spaniard, not entirely deliberately, not entirely by accident, either. And I accept now that my fantasies of marrying his daughter were just a little preposterous. All that makes me sad is that the Spaniard saw the amulet my father used to wear, whereas I, as long as I knew him, have only ever seen the chain.