The Evil Eye by Jackie Villarreal Najera

I am from the coastal city called Corpus Christi, Texas. In my city, lots of people believe in the evil eye. When I was a child I was never sure what it meant.

Back then, I had vey red hair. It was wavy and I had very white skin. I was referred to as the “ratita blanca” or the white mouse. This title was given to me by an old man that saw me playing outside. Later I learned he was a friend of my grandmother.

I had many instances with strangers stopping their cars and touching my hair. The strangers always said “I did not want to give you the evil eye”. So, I learned that there was a physical evil eye.

On Sundays after church we would go to the movies. One Sunday as we were walking back from the theatre I started feeling sick with a fever. Right away my Aunt Virginia said “I gave you the evil eye. I saw your hair shining in the sunlight and I should have touched your hair.” My aunt sounded frantic and then she took a raw egg and rubbed it all over my body. When the egg broke on my stomach, she panicked. Logical me, just thought it must have been a cracked egg. She buried the egg so that the evil eye would leave my body.

I discovered that there is another type of the evil eye. We were visiting some distant relatives in Rio Bravo, Mexico. It turned out to be a strange summer that year. While we were there my brother got a fever. My brother said he had seen an owl at the window by his bed. He thought that it was great to see an owl. An owl is considered a bad omen in my family. One of the elder woman took a special branch. I do not know what kind of branch it was, or what made it special. With the branch the elder rubbed my brother all over his body.

“Come out of his body.” The elder would say. My brother did not understand and kept getting up from his bed. They told him to stay still but my brother kept getting up. My mother finally held him down until the ritual was over.

There is another type of evil eye that was practiced in my family. It is related to things.  If visiting a friend and you say that object in their home is pretty. The friend will give you what you admired.

I did not know about this evil eye. My parents knew that I did not know this.  While visiting Doña Julia one day I said “What an interesting lamp.” My parent tried to signal me not to say anything, but it was too late. Doña Julia gave me that ugly lamp.

I had to take that monstrosity home.  I asked my parents why did she give it to me?  They explained that if she had not given you the lamp you would have given it the evil eye. They said the lamp probably would have broken. I explained that I was only trying to be polite. Everything else in that house was really strange I told them. They said never admire anything in any home.

I could not have given that ugly lamp the evil  eye, because it was the ugliest lamp ever. My parents said that does not matter.  “Next time, just admire their cooking and nothing more.”

I think there is a lot to learn about the evil eye.

People don’t stop their cars any more to admire my hair.  I am now 67. The only people that still brag about my hair are my relatives.  My hair is now light auburn. I doubt if I if anyone can call me the “Ratita Blanca” any more.

I think that’s a good thing.




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