Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Dec 28, 2020

Hohonu Pond

Standing at the edge of Hohonu pond tonight is indeed a sobering experience considering that the body of a dear childhood friend has lain lifeless in this watery grave for the past forty-six years.

 Her name was Maria Valente, and in 1974 she was swimming with four of her friends in this pond when she was suddenly overcome by an epileptic seizure and drowned. She'd forgotten to take her dose of Diphenylhydantoin before she left her home. There was so much laughing and horseplay on that summer day, and what with the portable radio blaring music, no one could tell that Maria was in any distress until it was too late. 

Once Maria's friends realized that she had gone under, they each frantically dove beneath the pond's dark waters time and time again, hoping to find her and bring her safely up to the surface, but to no avail. The depth of the pond was never officially recorded until after the drowning. When the authorities finally arrived, they began to dredge Hohonu Pond in hopes of finding Maria's body; hours later, they surmised that the pond was bottomless. Who knows where the body could be? 

In the Hawaiian language the word, "Hohonu" means deep. Accounts say that what is now known as "Hohonu Pond" was a more modern name given to the area by local plantation workers who swam in the waters of the loko wai at the end of a hot day to cool themselves off. A few of them might have attempted to see how far down they could swim until they touched the bottom; however, the waters of Hohonu became colder the deeper they went, and it got too dark too fast. The would-be adventurers quickly gave up the ghost. No pun intended. 

A short time after the drowning disappearance of Maria Valente, a couple sat near the grassy banks of Hohonu Pond one late night making out. Their passion was disturbed by a sudden boiling splash from the waters not more than ten feet away from where they lay. They would later tell the police that the ghost of a twelve-year-old girl came floating across the surface of the pond toward them, from what they could recall of the stories in the news; they were able to identify the ghost as being Maria Valente.

Thus was born the urban legend of "The Ghost of Hohonu Pond."

Forty-six years later, on the anniversary of Maria's drowning, crowds of curiosity seekers gather at Hohonu Pond and await the arrival of Maria's apparition. There have been rogue winds, which have manifested from nothing, strange ripples on the pond, and orb-like anomalies that people claim to see with their naked eye, but the actual ghost of our friend Maria? Not once. So why come back every year?

The power of the story

Today, Maria has no living family to speak of, but someone of a tremendous sympathetic heart decided that the exploitation of the young girlʻs tragic death needed to be put to rest once and for all. Without a news crew's fanfare, this person hired a private company to dredge Hohonu Pond once more. Without anyoneʻs knowledge, the pond filled up with so much silt over the years that it now had a depth of thirty feet. That would mean that the pond has a connection to a more comprehensive water source, like a nearby river. Mounds of silt were brought up and deposited on the banks of the pond. A portion of the accumulation of silt fell away only to reveal Mariaʻs body. It was wholly preserved and unfettered by decomposition, appearing as if she was merely asleep and not dead for forty-two years. It was a pitiful, heartbreaking sight for all who witnessed it, most especially the dredge's benefactor. No longer preserved in the pond's combined ice-cold temperature and silt, the body, began to deteriorate under the elements rapidly. Hohonu pond suddenly became a sinkhole as chunks of earth fell into a watery abyss of red dirt and silt; we ran away just in time to avoid being taken under with the dredging equipment. It was like something out of a disaster movie; it happened in slow motion. By the time it was over, Mariaʻs remains were like the very elements that preserved her and took her back. 


Still gathered around the new expanse of the pond, we stood there, staring into its murky waters well past sun-set. We were still in a state of shock at the thought that we nearly lost our lives in one fell swoop, but nothing would shock us more than the strange wind that conjured bits of soil and mists of water to race across the surface of the pond. The elements quickly gathered in the middle and stopped so fast that it caused a giant ripple to radiate outwards from its center. The soil, the mists, and the wind created the floating apparition of Maria Valente to appear before us, her form hovering just inches above the pond. She regarded each one of us with a beaming smile in her eyes. Blinking once, Maria mouthed the words, 'thank you,' and then she faded away with the wind that brought her. There were no words spoken among us, a gasp here, a stifled cry there, but not a word uttered. The moment was beyond description because you had to be there; you just had to. 

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