Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Aug 11, 2021

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2021 #81


Three times a day, I had to feed my grandfather Kon-gee or what my mother called Jook. I hated it because it took away from my Xbox time, where I could play and talk to my online friends while battling the hordes.

I understood that my parents worked during the day so, they couldn't feed grandpa themselves. What irritated me is that his feeding times always came at the most intense point during a game when points were crucial, and my teams mates were dying around me. The phone rang right at that exact moment, and I had no choice but to pick up and answer it. "Get off the game Kyler, it's time to feed grandpa his jook!"

Kyler, that's me. I'm named after my father, Kyle, and my mother, Tayler. Why would someone do that to their child and give them the combined names of themselves rather than a well-thought-out name like Dexter or Channing? But no, they were too lazy, and so they came up with Kyler. Mother-fuckers. One time, I ignored the phone call because I had already determined that saving the netherworld from the hordes of Bavmordia was a moral imperative. The jook could wait. Little did I know that an entire day had passed. When I finally got around to feeding grandpa his jook, it wasn't there. Instead, it was being heated up in the microwave by my parents, who got home after work and found grandpa there by himself with no jook in front of him. That was the first time I'd received a tag team ass whipping from my parents. It made such an impression that I had already made a mental note to enforce it on my kids if they ever did some dumb shit like I did. "Three times a day, on time, Kyler!" My mother screamed while my butt still achingly pulsated from the whacks of the large flat rice spoon.

"Your Xbox is gone!" My father bellowed while holding the only lifeline I had to the outside world in his arms. I didn't see it, but I did hear it from inside my bedroom. Good old Kyle Lee took a sledgehammer to the game counsel and shattered it into tiny fragments until it resembled crushed glass. I had no choice but to bid my army a fare thee well, as we fell in a battle of which we would never see the outcome. Instead, they would have to fight this campaign without me. "Remember me to our lords and tell them I fought bravely," I whispered under my breath. My online death ended with the dull thud from the lid of the garbage bin as my father finally laid the Xbox to rest. 

"I'm sorry you have to do this every day, Kyler," my grandpa apologized. "If I could get your Xbox back for you, I would."

"Can we not talk about it, grandpa?" It hurt me to be rude to him, but the death of my Xbox was still too raw. "Eat your jook."

"Ok," he agreed. 

I slid the hot pipping bowl of jook in front of him and lit three sticks of incense, and put it in the incense holder in front of his black and white portrait. I rang the bell three times and put my hands together to pray. Now, he could eat the essence of the jook while the physical part of the food would stay on the altar and not attract any flies. It wouldn't spoil or get rotten because it was protected by the sanctity of the prayers. "See you again at noon for lunch, grandpa."

"I'll be here," he promised like he always did.

I had to ask him because I was curious and because my parents would never answer when I asked them about it. "Grandpa, why do you eat jook all the time? Don't you get tired of it?"

"When your faddah was baby," Grandpa began. "He was really sickly, only my mother's jook could cure him, but my mother was already dead by that time. I had a dream one night that my mother came to me and gave me the recipe for her jook. I was so happy and grateful in the dream, and I asked her how I was supposed to feed your father the jook since he was so small? She said the jook was for me, not your father. When I felt sad or troubled, she told me that the best way to clear my mind was to make jook and eat the whole thing without wasting it. Did you know she was right? Even now, when I know that I, as a ghost, cannot help you, eating the essence of the offering of jook always makes me feel better."

Today, as an adult with a wife and children of my own, I still make offerings of jook to my grandpa. But, of course, I also have a little of it myself to keep grandpa and myself happy and content.

Photo credit-Why cook? Eat out?

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