Equal Partners
by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners

By Roland Ezri

"Women are the backbone of all societies. They do a substantial part of the work, and play a major role in raising the future generation yet they are largely powerless. The decisions that count are made by men and foisted upon women."

Writings by Roland Ezri

The Second Exodus – Egypt – CXLI. Bad Eye 101 (1 of 3)

The fear of the bad eye is as old as the world. At its core is human envy, and the supposed risk that this envy, if directed towards you and/or your family, could be harmful. The object of envy could be material such as a new car, or it could be a blessing such as giving birth to a child; actually, even during your pregnancy you should be concerned!

The “science” behind the bad eye is intricate; look at the information I’ll be giving you as a university course! I will not be offering Bad Eye 201! The advanced knowledge connected with such a course has unfortunately died when my two grandmothers passed away.

Because of the bad eye factor, you need to be careful how you compliment other people. If a friend has a baby, you don’t exclaim, “what a beautiful child, look at her wide eyes, her perfect little mouth, and …” That’s a no, no. The mother will get very disturbed, and it’s in poor taste. On the other hand, you can’t ignore the baby completely, that would be very insulting. So what do you do? It’s a balancing act, and you learn the proper behavior at your mother’s knees.

Picture me learning the Egyptian social graces (more numerous and more complex than the North American ones) and having in addition to learn how to compliment a mother without “endangering” the welfare of her little one. By 8, I had, to some extent, learned how to navigate the choppy waters of (Egyptian) proper behavior. Of course, as time went by, I got better at it. Nevertheless, by the time I left Egypt at the age of 20, I still had a lot to learn.

So, what is considered as proper manners? Let’s stay with the example of the baby. Try to bring God into it; you’re complimenting the Maker and indirectly the parents. As well, use relatives, genetically, they obviously have a contribution. Examples: “Blessed be the Creator, only He can create such perfection.” “He has the eyes of your mother, and the nose of your father-in-law; both sets of grandparents must be crazy about him.”

What about material things? Your best friend’s husband has bought a new car; you refer to it indirectly. “I told you that Anwar will do well in life when you married him. May you go on many joyful trips in your new car.”

A baby is a new life, but what about death? There are rules here too! Your neighbor’s father has passed away, and you go to offer your condolences. You know that he was in his nineties when he died, but never, ever, do you bring the subject that he had a long life. Nobody, will talk about age here. Why? Because the bad eye can “affect” the family; they obviously have a good heredity, and you’re indirectly telling them that they are lucky since they are destined to have a long life. Of course, that may or may not happen, but there is an implication here, and, as a result, you come across as uncouth.

Needless to say, the situation is reversed if the deceased was young. Different rules apply here. Unfortunately, I don’t know them, that knowledge has died with the old timers.

As you can see, the fear of the bad eye reaches beyond the grave!

The real “peril” of the bad eye is the silent envy. Rarely, will people tell you to your face that you’re lucky to have this or that; it’s very poor manners, and Egyptians will seldom make such a faux-pas. No, the real fear is when people give you the bad eye but don’t say anything. Happens all the time, or at least that’s what Egyptians thought.

One question remains: how do you know that supposedly you’ve been given the (silent) bad eye?

Problems happen all the time in life. We’re always looking to blame a person or an event for our predicament. The bad eye is ideal here; and if you can pinpoint the source, it’s even better.

You slip on the floor and break an arm; surely you think it’s due to the bad eye; if you suspect your neighbor Leila, you know who the villain that caused your misery is. You feel better about the whole thing, you didn’t break an arm because you were clumsy, you were given the bad eye!

Your baby is very sick, you almost lose him, but by the grace of God he is saved. The Maker prevailed. This time the bad eye is defeated.

I heard of a lady who was not great in the kitchen; she often burned her meals. Surely, somebody was giving her the bad eye! Only when her malnourished husband threatened to divorce her did she pay more attention to her cooking. And once again, the bad eye was vanquished!

What happens when you have a long streak of bad luck and you have no doubt that the bad eye is the cause? Not to worry! There are numerous ways you can protect yourself and your family.

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