Mama calls me wilted,
a flower bending inwards.
In other words,

Nani calls it nazar.
A remedy, an illness.
Carried by all. Contagious.
Tightrope between keeping appearances
and keeping a distance.

Nazar lagayi.”
It touched you.
Caressed your luck,
as you naively crossed its path.

His headaches.
Her skin.
The mangled car on the freeway.
A sari’s tear.
Why the business is sinking.
Why your hair is thinning.

So exude gratitude.

Threading a rosary through her fingers,
Nani prays the nazar away.

Secretly hoping my eyes won’t shine as bright,
my smile won’t be as wide,
my laugh will soften,
my walk heavy.