It’s Sunday evening and I feel a case of the Mondays creeping up on me. I haven’t had a full week of work in over two weeks. I’ve grown accustomed to spending my abundant holidays with Canim, relaxing in the sun, reading, eating delicious food, and enjoying a whole lot of nothing. I had planned to blog about my fantastic weekend (which included a delicious dinner that brought an end to our diet, a lovely trip to the zoo, a triumphant trip to the bookstore, a village breakfast and a quaint afternoon spent on our friends’ farm), but then something happened to make me put all of my focus on Canim. He began the day feeling a little funny, and by the early evening, he was barely able to walk because he was experiencing severe pains.
Aside from being concerned about his welfare, and aside from coming up with every possible idea to make him more comfortable (I nearly broke my face after slipping on a rug while running to him with a steaming hot towel in my hands), a thought that had been floating around in the back of my mind managed to inch its way up to the front of my mind: I brag about my fiance too much. It’s not like I can really help it. He is absolutely worth bragging about. He is handsome, clever, hard-working, creative, charming, sweet, thoughtful, funny, effortlessly adorable, and he seems to draw energy from doting on me and showering me with love and affection. I sing his praises without even realizing it. I know I look like a teenager in puppy love whenever I hear his name, or see his picture, or get a message from him on my phone. I can’t control it and I don’t really try to, because dangit, I am in love with that man and I’ve waited my whole life to find him.
I think I’ve been in Turkey too long, because I find myself thinking, albeit very briefly, about the “nazar” whenever something both unexpected and unfortunate happens. I am not a superstitious person, but I am a spiritual person and I do believe in the supernatural, to a point. I believe in God and all of His goodness, which would not be so evident if it were not for the abundant evil in the world. He (God still) is the light in the darkness. So, I do believe that evil thoughts can bring about evil things. The entire country seems to believe the same thing, as the blue boncuk eyes are EVERYWHERE you turn in Turkey. The boncuk is supposed to ward off the nazar, or the evil eye, which can be cast at unsuspecting people in many ways and for many reasons.
Your child is really cute? WATCH OUT. If too many people compliment the child, the evil eye may be lurking.
New car? Surely someone out there will feel a pang of envy and may unintentionally (or totally intentionally) send an evil eye your way.
Flattering new haircut? New shoes? Nice manicure? Beware, beware, beware!
Do you have an extraordinary fiance who you still can’t believe is real? You’d better tie a big blue bead around his neck and say “Masha’Allah” every chance you get. And be careful about sharing too many pictures on Facebook and Instagram of the two of you frolicking merrily through a field of daisies — that’ll conjure the evil eye as well.
As a result of the ever-present danger of the evil eye, the solution (it seems) is to attach the blue beads to all valued objects (or people). Fortunately, merchants have figured out a way to help people fight off the evil eye with countless blue-eyed products readily available wherever you go. Literally. They are everywhere.
When I first came here, several foreigners I encountered adamantly opposed the blue beads. I understood why. My faith opposes using man-made objects to protect us from supernatural forces. Only our faith in God can do that. I think Muslims are supposed to follow a similar rule, but of course, it can be hard to distinguish religious practices from uniquely Turkish practices. The lines often blur. In my year and a half in Turkey, I have received about a dozen trinkets with the blue eye on it. I always felt strange accepting the gifts. Is it rude if I literally never use the gifts? Should I even accept them? Would I make God angry for accepting them? And besides, those blue earrings were really pretty.
Personally, I think it’s up to each person to decide. I don’t believe the blue eye has any power to protect me, just like I don’t believe a cross has any power to protect me, and I don’t believe a shamrock, horseshoe, or poor rabbit’s foot will bring me good luck. Those are all just trinkets and symbols, and symbols only have as much power as a person is willing to give them. Only my faith in God can protect me (and now us) from evil things. However, the boncuk gifts were given to me with love, from people whose friendship I cherish. Their intentions were good. So, I accept the gifts, and use them as a reminder to thank God for all of the blessings in my life, and to ask for Him to protect me and my loved ones from anything wishing us harm.
Allah sizi nazarlardan korusun. (May God protect you from the evil eye.)