I don’t post pictures on social media. It is not because I do not want my friends to know what I am up to. It is not because I don’t care too much about social media. It is not because I am too busy to do so. It is not that I don’t like to have all my pictures be in a place where I can easily share AND access them in the future. In fact, the prospect of that idea sounds very appealing.
Yet I don’t post pictures on social media.
I simply do not post pictures on social media because I realise I have a lot to lose. The idea of nazar, or the evil eye, was introduced to me as a young child. I have grown up hearing my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles talk about the losses they faced and how they think it’s because so and so was impressed by the object they have lost. I have lost too many things to nazar to risk it again.
I clearly remember the time I was given the task of delivering dishes to our neighbour’s house. It was a bit dark outside but their house was right across the street (the streets were not quite as big as they are here). I remember the look on their face when they opened the door. The look of surprise and awe. I was 7 and what many would call “chubby and adorable”. A step in and that was all it took for our neighbours to pull my cheeks, offer me candy, and pack a bag of fruit for me to take along home. I had a fever and could not get out of bed for the next week. I had been subjected to their nazar.
Whenever I told any of my friends about this, they gave me that look. That look that says “do you really believe that?” That look with the worried eyes that the forced smiles are trying to hide that says “they didn’t get in trouble, did they?”, believing my beliefs to not just be foolish but harmful.
No, my neighbours did not get in trouble. In fact, I think of them even today with fondness and tenderness. They have given context to the word “nazar” for me. A context my American friends have not been blessed with.
With this context and incidents just like that one, I have grown extremely cautious about anything and anyone I love. I have found myself losing things that I valued because I boasted about them. I have found that whenever I am quick to share my good luck, it often vanishes.
I make an effort to not share pictures of my brother being his excessively cute self or to tell anyone about that sweet gesture of the person I love because I can’t bear to lose these things or have them be hurt. And when I do share them, I do it with a prayer to Allah to protect us from the evil eye and keep us under his protection. I quietly whisper “Mashallah” whenever someone praises a loved one. If anything, I wish I could whisper it aloud and with confidence.