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Five Old Wives Tales And The Truth Behind Them

Were you ever scared of becoming the love interest of a djinn?

By Sherazade Khan

Growing up in a Pakistani household we get to hear some pretty bizarre not-so-true stories. Much of my childhood was spent worrying about how would I pick grains of salt with my eyelashes! Yes. My great grandmother always said that if we spilled salt, then on the day of judgement, “palkon se daana daana uthana ho ga!” (you will have to pick up each grain with your eyelashes).

That was enough to convince me to be super careful when sprinkling salt on my fries!

Where exactly did she come up with these crazy theories? I sat down with my lovely nani, picked her brains, and found the answers we’ve all been looking for since our tarnished childhood.

Tale: If you waste salt, you’ll be asked to pick it with your eyelashes: “Namak zaaya nahin kartay, qayamat pe palkon se daana daana uthana ho ga!”

Truth: Salt used to be a prized commodity, hence, the precaution

Image Courtesy: speeli.com

Not many generations ago, salt was precious, especially in the rural areas where people paid wages in salt or bartered their crop in exchange for it. This was then used to barter for other things that they needed, essentially the currency of the time.

Nowadays salt is widely available, but the old ladies of the house still regard it so precious that not a grain is allowed to be wasted!

Tale: Don’t sit under the trees after dark or the djinns will fall in love with you: “Maghrib ke baad darakhtoun ke neechay bethtnay se Jinn aashiq hojatay hain.”

Truth: Don’t overdose on Carbon dioxide.

If you paid attention in science class, you’d know that after sundown the trees and foliage stop photosynthesis and start respiration, thereby giving out carbon dioxide instead of oxygen. Sitting under a large tree, after sunset, would mean there’s more CO2 in the air and humans don’t exactly thrive on carbon dioxide.

So, in order to discourage us, our mothers or grandparents tried to scare us.

I guess they won, because I wouldn’t be caught near a tree after dark for fear of bumping into a djinn!

Tale: Jumping over your sibling (or anyone else) would halt their growth right there: “Aye haye, ab tou who barhay ga hi nahin.

Truth: Don’t squish your sibling to death.

Image Courtesy: YMCA

I have to admit, it amused me to be in control of my brother’s ability to grow, so when I was mad at him, I’d jump over him!

Clearly, it didn’t work, because he’s over 6 feet tall now.

The truth is, when kids are jumping over each other, the adults worry that the one on the floor may get squished. In order to prevent the run to the ER, they spin this little tale.

Tale: Too much frolicking around after meals would cause the food you ate to go into the dog’s stomach (abhi beth jao nahin tou khaana kuttay ke pait main chala jaye ga!)

Truth: Too much frolicking will upset your digestive tract.

This was one of my all-time favourites, because we had a pet dog!

I thought it was the coolest thing that my after-dinner cartwheels could transport the food from my stomach to his. Sadly, poor Roofus didn’t benefit from my antics, but sitting on my butt for 15 minutes post-mealtime did keep me away from uncomfortable bowel movements.

Tale: Got the hiccups? Someone’s missing you: “Oh ho koi yaad kar raha hai, kaun ho sakta hai, zara socho…”

Truth: Think about something other than your hiccups and they’ll go away.

Image Courtesy: udemy.com

To this day, when I get the hichkees, I mindlessly start rattling off names of people who could possibly be missing me. I run out pretty fast, but most often, by the time I reach number five, the hiccups are gone!

Is number five actually missing me? Absolutely not!

This trick helps you focus on something other than the hiccups. The distraction, if long enough, almost always ends up in the hiccups going away on their own.

So there you have it! If you’ve been wondering where these peculiar stories came from, you can put your mind at ease. And maybe even use them on your kids?