Mom is here. Throughout our conversations I am beginning to see the origins of my beliefs, including superstitions. For instance, I believe in the evil eye and jinxing. When S moved to his new apartment I bought him a rather large evil eye ornament whose role is to catch the bad wishes or envy of others towards him.
In Iran, my family members go above and beyond a glass ornament. They are so scared of other people’s evil eye that they flat out lie to protect themselves. My relatives don’t even trust their own intentions. I remember catching a cold after a party. My aunt was convinced she had jinxed me because she complimented me on my dress.
Mom grew up the same way. Her grandmother had a routine. If someone she loved got sick after a party, she would hold an egg in her hand above the sick person’s head with a bowl under the egg. Then she’d call out the names of every attendee and for each name she’d give the egg a squeeze. Whoever’s name the egg broke on was the culprit, the man or woman with the evil eye. She’d say a prayer to the broken egg and discard it.
Her saga continues with her grand daughters. Here are two fresh stories from the motherland.
My dad is a chemical engineer and still does some consulting. He is currently working with a company in Iran and travels for work. During one of his trips mom told him: “If people ask your age, you don’t need to be so honest. Shave off a few years.”
“What?” I asked.
“What do you mean what?” mom answered. “They’ll put a curse on him. These young guys think 50 is old.”
It gets better. Apparently my family members are so important that they are at risk of being jinxed even by their treating physicians. Not too long ago auntie Jila brought granny to the doctor’s office for a routine exam. When the physician assistant asked my grandmother’s age, Jila quickly announced 75 (instead of 85).
“MOM! That’s her doctor! He needs accurate information to treat the patient. You can’t lie to the doctor.”
“What difference does it make how old she is? It’s not like she lied about medications. Besides, I sometimes tell granny not to wear too much jewelry when she’s going to parties. Most 85-year-old people are sick and dead. You can’t prance around looking beautiful.”
As we talked and laughed about it all with mom, I realized these beliefs may sound ridiculous, yet they are precisely what connect us to our culture and make us who we are.