The Evil Eye and The Charm is a short-story collection. It contains three stories penned by Neil D’Silva, which are based on Indian nimboo-mirchi superstitions. The nimboo-mirchi is a contraption made with one large lemon and seven green chilies held together by a black thread and a piece of coal. This is usually found hanging from Indian homes, offices, and vehicles. The belief is that this charm can ward off the Goddess Alakshmi, the harbinger of bad luck. Interestingly, Alakshmi is considered to be the Goddess of Adversity, and she is the sister of Lakshmi, the Goddess of Prosperity.
The stories in the book raise several questions in the readers’ minds. They straddle between the contrasting aspects of rationalism and superstition, and try to explore the fine line where one ends and the other begins. Such stories have never been told before, and the creepy style in which they have been written adds to their lasting effect. No one who reads these stories can forget them for a lifetime.
These are the stories in the book.
A Grave Situation – A young couple is distressed because their baby doesn’t stop crying. An old aunt suggests the baby is possessed and uses a nimboo-mirchi charm to ward it off. Then, she sets the husband on a task that tests his courage and beliefs.
Last Juice – A disbelieving son steps on a nimboo-mirchi and thinks this is a wonderful way to test his mother’s strong beliefs in her superstitions.
Chain Reaction – A young boy gets possessed, which manifests itself as several blemishes on his skin. When medicine fails, belief in superstition takes over, which includes a trip to a crazy godman and, of course, the nimboo-mirchi.
The Evil Eye and The Charm has been highly praised in India and abroad. Despite being a short book by conventional standards, it is praised by reviewers for quality over quantity. A US reviewer stated that this book can be used as a textbook for American students to learn more about Indian culture and traditions. This review is live on Goodreads.
Its Goodreads page is worth checking out too.