I an Indian, born and brought up in a small north Indian town named Roorkee. Ours is a land where both modern and traditional way of life manage to survive hand in hand. Here medicine, science, modern technology, old wives tales and superstition all keep jostling each other for space on the same platform.
I always believed that coming from a family where education is valued above all else, I had left the ‘knock-on-wood’ world far behind. I believed this ,that is, until I thought the word “baby” out aloud.
Let me tell you having a baby is just not simply conceiving a baby and carrying to term. It is also not only delivering the baby and then focusing on keeping your sanity while raising the child.
Yes, having a baby is all this and it is also dodging landmines of dangers lurking in every corner, waiting to attack. Dangers that are above and beyond the explainable logical world.
No matter how educated or modern an average Indian family is, the minute a (much awaited) baby knocks on their world, everything changes.
I learned that an Indian baby is apparently a ‘magnet’ for all the roving evil eyes in the world. The minute I broke the news of the pregnancy to both the would-be grandmothers, all the possible dangers in the land of the evil became real.
Out came the spools of black thread, packets of chili, and salts. The only way I was allowed to step out of the house was with various threads and amulets hanging around my neck(to ward off the evil EYE) and armed with onion and garlic(to ward off evil SPIRITS ). It was at this point that I realized that I it is not just the seen that you are battling with but also the unseen.
At this point if you try to appeal to the progressive men in the family, they simply nod and go back to their newspapers. Afterall, why take a chance and it’s just chili that is being burnt and salts being thrown and neither is frightfully expensive.
Giving Birth to My Cute Evil Eye Magnet
So, after dodging all the dangers and managing to stay alive, you give birth to the precious baby. This particular tiny person has a magnetic field so strong that every roving evil eye on the planet finds it’s way directly and sticks to it.
Indian grandmothers come fitted with special antennas that come out the minute the baby is out of the womb. In a world where thousands of babies are born every second, these antennas can pick up the exact number of times their precious little person has been cast upon with the evil eye.
Even before putting clothes on the baby we put a black dot on the baby’s face. This is a very “smart” dot, which stares right back at anyone trying to cast an evil eye on the baby and provides round the clock protection.
Next level of security are the black and red threads, these come with the tag ‘protecting-babies-since-eternity’.
Only once all the security measures are in place is the baby introduced to the world. As a new mother leaving the house with the baby meant carrying the essentials like onion, garlic and of course the baby bag, might need a diaper or something.
As the world knows babies tend to fall sick, but not every sneeze, cough or crying spell can be explained through science or medicine. It might be the doing of one of the well wishers secretly casting an evil eye, and being the strong magnet that the poor little kid is, results in getting sick.
After surviving the initial zombie, new mom phase, I felt I now have the hang of things. I decided to go back to my life and was sent packing with bags full of chili along with the other security measures and the grandmothers teary eyed blessings.
Once we kind of settled down some of our friends decided to come and visit the baby. It was a pleasant evening, with us showing off our little person, until the last guest left. That was the moment the baby started crying, so we changed, fed and walked the baby. The crying turned to screaming so we checked for any fever or discomfort.
Still after one hour of trying all we can the screaming would not stop and we were on the verge of panic. We decided to pack up and run to the grandmothers and never return without one of them. That is when an alternate solution hit me and I went running for the forgotten chili and salts. Once again the unexplained rescued us. Baby just calmed down.
I have been playing part time sorceress since, as and when needed, because why take a chance. I have been surviving my mom life with the help of Google, both the grand mothers and of course the additional security measures of divine help, all in that order.
So even though none of us would call ourselves superstitious people but when it comes to our kids, we walk a very fine line. Iphones in one hand and chili in the other, we keep battling parenting. We try to balance logic with the illogical, because why would anyone want to take a chance?,