7.01.2008

The Evil Eye

“Max…is good husband?” My mother-in-law speaks only a few words of English, but she always manages to communicate her point very well.

“Yes, Miha,” I replied. “He is very good. We are happy.”

“Yes…good…good,” she said with a smile. Then, her look suddenly turned sour. In a hush tone and in inexplicable Arabic, she looked at me sternly and cautioned me about that which I didn’t understand. I turned to Max for translation.

“She says to tell no one else about your happiness because someone might cast an evil eye upon you,” Max explained.

I have heard of this concept of the evil eye because it also exists in the Greek culture, and is, in fact, a commonly held belief throughout the Mediterranean and Middle East. The idea speaks to the jealous heart of human nature and states that people can never be truly happy for your successes and, instead, will secretly cast an evil eye upon you bringing misfortunes and turmoil. My family has always considered it a superstition, but Max’s mother takes it very seriously.

Just the other day, she walked up to her son, laid her hands upon his head, and began chanting.

“Alah akbar. Alah akbar. Alah akbar.” (God is great. God is great. God is great.)

Later, Max told me this was done in an attempt to ward off any evil eyes that might be directed toward him. Of course, her chant didn’t prevent me from shooting Max a look of bemusement and amusement at his explanation.

But perhaps I should not have dismissed the power of the evil eye so quickly. Not even day later, something evil certainly befell me—a bacterial infection in my digestive track, which required medical attention.

Fortunately, the resort here in Sharm El Sheikh features a well-staffed clinic. In addition to the infection, the doctor discovered I suffered from low-blood pressure and dehydration. He put me on IV fluids immediately.

I’ve been very careful of what I’ve eaten since arriving in Egypt. Last year, I also became sick a few days after arriving in Sharm and thought I had learned my lesson. But last year, I didn’t diss the evil eye. Lessoned learned.

***

(In a few days, I’ll be fine. The good news is my sickness gives me a chance to catch up on my blog reading—something I have missed since coming to Egypt. It’s been hard to sneak away from Max's family, but now I have the perfect excuse to leave them for a bit to "rest.")

25 comments:

Simple Answer said...

I am sooooo sorry to here you got sick. so. not. looking. forward. to. that.

I had no idea about the evil eye. Are you supposed to pretend to be unhappy?

Me said...

Shitz. That sucks. Hope you are feeling better soonest!

ms chica said...

Until reading this, I had yet to find an advantage in having digestive distress. Clearly the cat needed to catch on her blog reading when she left me a present in the tub.

Tiny Frog said...

woe is me!!

I hope you feel better sooooon!!!

christina said...

Ooooh, hope you feel better really soon!

I had a Greek boyfriend at university in Canada. His grandmother in Greece used to phone him ALL the time with evil eye worries. All very interesting for an outside to observe.

Charlotte said...

Oh honey, I'm so sorry you're ill. Sending you lots of feel better soon vibes!

And yes, I have a nazar (that's what my Turkish friends call it) in various rooms of our house, too. Even if I don't believe in it, hey, you never know ...

Charlotte said...

Oh, and I forgot to say: I also have a nazar in my car, hanging from the rearview mirror. Because on the road, I do get the evil eye quite often ...

AmyD said...

Boooo to the sickness! Glad you can get some much-needed downtime, though. Take it easy, Diane!

Andrea said...

I hope you are feeling better soon!
And I must make a mental note never to diss the evil eye.

Cheryl said...

Ah, but the real question is, who gave you the evil eye?

Dianne said...

Enjoy the rest and I hope you make everyone cater to you but something tells me you won't.

My landlady in Brooklyn, from Italy, believed very strongly in the evil eye. And also in "the vendetta". She was always warning me and crossing herself.

It could have been creepy but she was such a good soul that it was endearing.

gemma said...

That evil eye thing? The Irish grandmother always said don't speak too much of happiness since the Devil will be glad to take it away!!! I think it's an older woman thing and yikes! I may be older than my grandmother was when she told that to me. I still down play any great events...I was thinking it's because I didn't want the person I am telling them to to feel bad, now I know, it's the Devil thing or the evil eye thing. Universal imps and all.

Hope you are soon back to your spunky self.

kenju said...

Well, that just proves once again that there is a silver lining to every cloud!!

I have a very good friend who is Lebanese. Her (bad) MIL was very good at casting the evil eye (and not warning against it)...LOL. I think that Miha has your best interests at heart.

evercurious said...

Wow! Vactioning, in-laws and sickness can't stop you from being an awsome blog buddy! I'm wishing a speedy recovery and no more evil lurking .

LZ Blogger said...

Diane ~ Sorry to hear about your recent health issues. The one thing about those "evil eyes" is always the same... EVIL! Here's an "I" to your GOOD HEALTH! ;-) ~ jb///
P.S. I guess you aren't going to be at BlogStock '08?

Jill said...

Feel better soon! A bacterial infection? Oh those are SO not fun...

Sizzle said...

I am glad you are getting better! Wow! Rest (and read) up. ;)

Shelly said...

Sorry you're not feeling well so far from home! Sending you good healing vibes and wishes for a speedy recovery.
When I got home tonight and saw your comment on my blog I immediately thought "hey...isn't she on vacation in Egypt? She's supposed to be out havin' fun with Max and the fam"
Get well soon!

Caffienated Cowgirl said...

Wow, watch out for that evil eye! Take care, rest up and enjoy the rest of your trip :)

Snooker said...

Aww.. I'm sorry that you're feeling down. Hopefully it will all even out very soon.
Besides, who would give you the evil eye?

running42k said...

Hope you are feeling better and are evil eye free soon.

Anonymous said...

as an expert on the subject, i know that Tut's Gut is some really nasty funk

:)


Chico

V-Grrrl said...

My grandmother immigrated from Italy and feared the evil eye. I remember her words in Italian, the hand gesture to ward it off, the admonitions to never speak of your health or happiness out loud.

When my mother was pregnant, my grandmother wanted her to stay close to the house.

Hope you're recovering quickly from Tut Gut.

Lynda said...

Mashallah!! - that is what I have been taught to say if I am ever daft enough to compliment someone. Poor you - no fun getting sick on holiday - sorry we didn't manage to catch up - next time - or perhaps over the summer as I will be in Germany.

karey m. said...

i forget how to spell it, and i'm too lazy too look it up, but when someone gives you a compliment, they follow with marshallah, which is said to beautiful things and people so that god may watch over them.

also so the evil eye doesn't get you. probably protects you from the boogeyman, too. not sure about the last one. afraid to ask.

hahaha. ummm. marshallah? xoxo.

p.s. sorry you're sick. and i loved the above what i didn't blog about this week. but you knew that already, didn't you?