The Man with the Evil Eye
Before you read the story
Some stories are harmful. They are not true, but they can hurt people. Discuss these questions with your friends.
- Do you know any stories than can hurt people?
- Do you know any stories that make people hate each other?
- Do you know any stories that make people fight each other?
This is a long story, in seven different parts. There are short questions at the end of each part. Try to answer the questions first, before you go on to read the next part.
Now read the story
It was a dark, cold night. Hannah, a little girl, sat in her house beside her mother. The evening meal was finished. The family sat together, and looked into the fire.
Someone knocked at the door.
"Oh! Don't open it!" cried Hannah. "I'm frightened."
But her father was already opening the door.
The family's neighbour stood there.
"Please," she said, "Can you lend me some coffee? Mine is finished. I'm going to the market on Saturday. I'll buy some coffee then, and give you some."
"Yes, of course," Hannah's mother said, and she took some of her coffee and gave it to the neighbour.
The neighbour went away. Hannah's father shut the door and looked at his daughter.
"What's wrong with you?" he said. "Why are you frightened?"
"I'm frightened of our neighbour," the little girl said. "She's old, and ugly, and she lives alone."
Her father was surprised.
"But our neighbour is a good woman," he said. "Her life is very sad. Her husband died many years ago. Her little daughter died and her other children went away. Don't be frightened of her. She will not hurt you."
The little girl didn't answer her father. She sat still and looked into the fire.
At last, she said, "I heard a story today. Our aunt told it to me."
"What story?" said her father.
"It's about a man with the evil eye," Hannah said.
"Tell it to us now," said her mother.
So Hannah sat close beside her mother, and began to tell her story.
"Once upon a time," she said, "There were two little girls."
"Like you," smiled her father.
"Yes," said Hannah. "They were neighbours, and they lived near each other. They were very good friends.
The younger child lived with her mother and father. The older girl's mother was dead. She lived alone with her father.
The younger girl's mother was a very beautiful woman, with a lovely face and a sweet voice. Only one thing spoiled her beauty. A little chip was broken from her front tooth.
But one day, the little girl's mother became sick. She grew thinner and thinner, and weaker and weaker. And at last, she died.
The little girl was very sad when her dear mother died. She cried and cried. Her friend heard the noise, and came to see her.
"Why are you crying?" she asked. "What's happened?"
"My mother is dead!" the little girl said. "I'm so unhappy! Oh, Mother, Mother! I can't live without you!"
The big girl sat down beside her, and put her arms around her friend and they cried for a long time together.
Nearly a year went past, but the little girl never forgot her mother. She thought about her every day.
One day, the two girls' fathers decided to go to the market together. The market was a long way away, and they left early in the morning. Now the little girl was alone.
"I'll go and see my friend," she thought.
She ran to her friend's house and called out, "Are you there, dear friend? It's me!"
There was no answer.
She called out again.
"Open the door! Don't be afraid. It's me, your friend!"
The door began to open slowly. The older girl was there. She stood still and looked down at the ground. She didn't smile at her little friend.
"What's the matter?" the little girl asked her. "Are you sick?"
The big girl shook her head.
"Are you unhappy?"
The big girl nodded.
"I'm your friend," the little girl said. "Tell me about it. Perhaps I can help you."
The big girl came out of the house and shut the door behind her. The two children sat down together outside.
The big girl didn't want to speak, but her little friend said, again and again, "Tell me, why you are sad? Perhaps I can help you. Tell me!"
At last, the big girl said, "I don't want to tell you, because you will be very angry with me, but I must. Last night I saw someone."
"You saw someone? Who?" said the little girl.
"I saw your mother," the big girl said.
The little girl shook her head.
"No! It's impossible. You know that my mother is dead."
"Yes, she is dead, but I saw her, in our house."
The little girl's heart filled with happiness. She jumped up.
"Is she there now?" she cried. "Can I see her? Oh Mother, Mother, where are you?"
And she began to run towards the house.
The big girl ran after her.
"Wait," she said. "Stop!"
The little girl pushed past her angrily.
"I don't want to wait!" she said. "I want to see my mother!"
She opened the door and ran inside. But the house was empty. No one was there.
The little girl ran outside.
"My mother isn't there!" she said. "You were tricking me. You’re cruel. You want me to be unhappy!"
"No! I want to make you happy! " the big girl said. "I'll show you your mother. Wait."
She put up her hand and pulled a stick down from the roof, then she went into the second room of the house. The little girl followed her.
There were many pots in the second room. Some were big. Some were small. In the corner, one pot stood alone. It was a beautiful pot, but a little chip was broken from the top.
The big girl picked up the pot and carried it into the other room. Then she touched it with her stick.
At once, the pot changed into a human body. It was the body of the little girl's mother.
"Mother! Oh, Mother!" cried the little girl.
She kissed her mother's body again and again.
"Wake up, Mother! Look at me! Say something to me! Oh Mother, are you alive, or are you dead? Come back to me! Please!"
But her mother did not speak. She did not move.
Suddenly, the big girl heard a noise outside the house.
"Quick!" she said. "My father is coming! You must go."
"Go? What do you mean?" the little girl said. "I can't leave my mother now."
But the big girl picked up the stick. She touched the woman's body again. At once the body changed into the pot. The big girl picked up the pot and carried it back into the second room. Then she put the stick back into the roof.
"Go home now," she said to the little girl. "Remember, this is our secret. Don't tell anyone. If my father knows, he will be very, very angry."
The little girl ran home. At first she was happy.
"My mother is there, in the house next to ours!" she thought. "I saw her again. She is still my dear, dear mother."
But soon she was sad.
"Why didn't she talk to me?" she thought. "Why didn't she sit up and kiss me? Is she really dead, or is she half alive?"
Then she felt angry.
"Why is my mother in my friend's house? Is her father keeping her there? Why didn't he tell my father? What is he doing to her?"
She heard a donkey outside the house.
"My father is home," she thought. "What shall I tell him? I can't keep this secret! It's too important. No, I'll tell him everything."
She ran outside. Her father was there.
"Father, listen! Today I saw my mother!" she said.
Her father was angry.
"Don't say stupid things," he said. "Your poor mother is dead."
"But I saw her, Father," the little girl said. "She is in our neighbour's house. Please, you must believe me."
And she told her father the story.
At first, her father didn't believe her, but the little girl talked and talked.
At last he said, "My child, if this is true, we must rescue your mother. What did the pot look like? Tell me again."
So the little girl told her father everything again.
"There are many pots in my friend's house," she said. "Some are big and others are small. But my mother's pot is very beautiful. Only the top is a little broken. There is a chip in the top of it."
"Your mother was very beautiful," said the man, "only there was a chip in her tooth."
He believed his daughter now.
"All right," he said, "I must think. I must make a plan."
The little girl's father thought for a long time. At last he said, "Your mother died one year ago. We will invite all our friends and relatives to a ceremony to remember her. You, my child, must prepare the food for the feast. Your aunts will help you. I will make the tala."
The next day, the little girl's father went to see his neighbour.
"My wife died a year ago," he said, "and I'm going to make a ceremony to remember her death. There will be a big feast. I need some help from you."
"Some help?" said his neighbour. "What do you want?"
"I want to make a lot of tala," the little girl's father said, "but I don't have enough pots. Lend me your pots, neighbour. I'll give them back to you after the feast."
"Ah," his neighbour said. He looked a little worried.
"You want to borrow my pots? I don't know. My pots are good ones. Perhaps you will break them."
"No, no," said the little girl's father. "I will be very careful. Please, neighbour. I need your help."
At last, the neighbour agreed.
"Take my pots then," he said angrily. "But if you break them, you must pay me a lot of money!"
The little girl's father took all the neighbour's pots home. He carried the beautiful pot with the chip in the top very carefully. He put it down on the floor near his bed. Then he picked up a stick and touched it. Nothing happened.
The little girl was watching.
"It's the wrong stick, father," she said. "You need our neighbour's stick. He keeps it in the roof of his house."
"Then we must wait," her father said.
The day of the ceremony came. The little girl and her aunts worked hard. They made piles of injera and many dishes of delicious food. Friends and relatives came from far away to remember the dead woman.
"She was so beautiful," one of them said.
"And she was so good and kind," said another.
"She was my best friend," a third person said.
The man brought the neighbour's pots out of the house. They were full of tala. He kept only one inside. It was the pot with the chip in the top.
The little girl's father pulled her away from the other people.
"Look, our neighbour is here now, with his daughter," he said. "His house is empty. Let's go and find his stick. You must come and show me where it is."
They hurried to the neighbour's house.
"It's there, up there, Father," the little girl said, and she showed her father the stick in the roof.
Her father took it down, and together they ran back into their own house. The guests were outside. They were happy. They were talking and laughing. No one saw the man and his daughter.
"Now, Father," said the little girl. "Touch the pot with the stick and you will see my mother."
The man touched the pot with the stick. At once, the little girl's mother was there. She lay on the ground. Her eyes were shut. She didn't speak or move.
"Wife! Dear wife!" the man cried. "Is it really you?"
Outside the house, someone was calling.
"Where is our host? And his little girl? Why aren't they here with us?"
"Come, Father, we must go to our guests again," said the little girl.
She picked up the stick and touched her mother's body and at once it became a pot again.
The man looked at his daughter. He was very angry.
"My neighbour killed my wife!" he said. "He keeps her in his house, and she is his servant! He has the evil eye!"
"What are you going to do, Father?" asked the little girl. She was frightened.
"You will see," her father answered. "Go outside and serve food to our guests."
So the little girl went outside. She served more food and tala to the guests. But her father went quietly to all the men off his family.
"Bring your weapons," he told them. "There is an enemy at my feast. He is a man with the evil eye."
His relatives went home quietly one by one. They came back with their weapons.
"Now, child," the little girl's father told her. "Go into the house and bring out the pot and the stick."
So the little girl brought out the pot and the stick. She carried them very carefully and put them down beside her father. He picked the stick up and touched the pot. At once the body of his wife was lying on the ground.
Everyone was very surprised.
"It's your wife! Our sister!" they all said. "But she died a year ago. How can she be here?"
The neighbour was frightened now. He was moving quietly away.
"Quick!" the little girl's father said. "Catch him! Don't let him go! He is the man with the evil eye!"
His relatives brought the neighbour back. They stood all round him and showed him their weapons. The neighbour was frightened.
"This is my wife's body," the little girl's father said, "but she is dead. You were keeping her body. You were using her. She was your servant. But where is her soul?"
"I - I don't know," the neighbour said. "I didn't - I don't -"
"Give my wife her soul!" the little girl's father shouted, "Or we will kill you!"
"Yes, give her back her soul!" shouted all the man's relatives.
The man with the evil eye looked round. Everyone was shouting at him. Everyone was shaking their weapons. Even his daughter was angry with him now. She was shouting with the others.
"Don't kill me," he said. "I'll give her soul back to her. I'll bring her to life, but you must promise to let me go."
Everyone looked at the little girl's father.
"I promise," he said. "If you bring my wife's soul back again, you can go. But you can never live in this place again."
The man with the evil eye bent over the dead woman's body. At once she opened her eyes. Then she sat up.
"What - where am I?" she said.
"Mother!" shouted the little girl, and she ran into the woman's arms.
"My own dear wife!" her husband said.
No one was looking at the neighbour and his daughter. Very quietly, they were walking away. And after that day, no one ever saw them again.
But the little girl and her father and mother lived happily together for many more years.
"And that," said Hannah, "is the end of the story."
Hannah's father looked at her.
"Did the story frighten you?" he asked her.
"Oh yes, Father," Hannah said. "It's a true story. My aunt told me it was true."
Suddenly, someone knocked at the door again.
"It's our neighbour!" she cried. "Don't let her come in! She has the evil eye!"
"Stop it, Hannah," her father said. "Be quiet. Go and open the door."
"Oh Father, please, no," began Hannah.
Her father was angry.
"Open the door, Hannah! Now!" he said.
Slowly, Hannah went to the door and opened it. The old neighbour stood there. Hannah was very frightened. The old woman's face was ugly.
"I brought your coffee back," she said. "I didn't need it."
"She is looking at me," Hannah thought. "She is putting her evil eye on me!"
Then the old woman smiled.
"Ah, Hannah," she said. "You are a good girl. My little daughter was like you."
Tears filled the old woman's eyes, and fell down her cheeks.
Hannah's father was standing beside Hannah now.
"What happened to your daughter?" he asked the neighbour.
"God took her," the old woman said. "She died many years ago. She is with Him now, in Heaven. She was like your little girl, good and happy and sweet. God bless you, little Hannah."
Then she turned and went away.
Hannah and her father went back to sit by the fire.
"Well, Hannah," her father said. "Are you frightened of our neighbour now?"
"No," Hannah said. "She is sad and old and lonely. I was sorry for her. But I thought, at first..."
"You thought she had the evil eye," her father said. "You know, Hannah, that story is a bad one. Many good people have suffered because of it.
When I was a child, an old man lived near our house. He wasn't friendly to other people. He shouted at them sometimes. I think he had sickness in his mind.
'He has the evil eye!' everyone said.
No one talked to that poor man. Children threw stones at him. At last he died, alone and unhappy."
"But did he have the evil eye, Father?" Hannah asked.
"No! He was just a sad, sick old man," her father said. "Forget this story, Hannah. It is a cruel one. And it is not true."
Listen to the story: