The Indian who came to see Dr Martina John in her surgery yesterday afternoon was visibly sick. His inflated abdomen boded ill. The man had felt a little unwell that morning which, in itself, was no reason to get upset about. However, suddenly he was gripped by fear: might he be suffering from “viento” (the wind)?
Wind (viento), shock (susto) and the evil eye (mal ojo) are three notions in the superstitious faith of the Indians living in the Andes, all of which resulting in man’s malediction. A dark power comes on and exerts its influence, spelling pending disaster. Yesterday’s patient wanted to actively take action against “el viento” – so he drank petrol. The consequence for him was a serious stomach and intestine inflammation, and a badly inflated abdomen.
As Europeans, we are well advised not to laugh about the Quechua Indians in the Andes. While we may not be afraid of the “evil eye”, on a plane we shy away from sitting in row 13 or might feel uneasy when a black cat crosses the road from left to right in front of us.
When my wife and I were working at a missionary hospital in Ecuador from 1998 to 2003, we met with many Indians from the rainforest. Some were terribly afraid of evil spirits in the trees which kept them in a permanent state of anxiety. No psychologist or psychiatrist was able to provide relief. Overcoming this fear was only possible when one of them put his complete trust in God. Jesus once said: “In the world you will have fear, but be of good cheer for I have overcome the world.” /KDJ