Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Feb 25, 2022

Lākou 2022

They were a part of the beautiful silence of Māha'ulepū before too-curious tourists began to arrive.

Walking the way couples do when they are enamored of one another, the two paused and kissed briefly, and then without a hint of what was about to transpire, the boy fell to one knee and removed a small box from his shirt pocket and presented it to the girl. She was stunned for a moment before she let out a slight gasp. Covering her mouth with both hands, she nodded, and the boy took her left hand and placed the engagement ring on the fourth finger as is tradition. The two ravished one another with kisses and soon went off somewhere to consummate the proposal. The Hawaiians and locals knew well enough of this location to move about in a particular manner to not disturb the unseen. Such reverence permeates the air here that, for a moment, one can forget about the history of the place.


As we've become used to them, the torch lights did not appear on a mountain ridge to make their way down from Kalaeokahonu to the beach where I stood. Instead, the lit Kukui beacons manifested out of thin air, literally out of the sand. They begged me, each one. Not at all content with their death on foreign soil, considering that they had all come from the big island to fight on their ali'i's behalf, they now wanted to go home. However, there was no way to get them there; it would take a lifetime before that was ever possible with so much red tape and politics. They were in search of their war companions and family, but how could I tell them that those remains were grounded to dust and made as concrete for a hotel that eventually was swallowed up by hurricane 'Iwa? They wouldn't understand; the most I could do was indulge their nostalgia and ask them to tell me stories of their time; I wanted to know as much as they would share. The tales were exciting, enlightening, and eventually tragic because all the stories came to only one single conclusion, and then it would start all over. The night was long, and at its darkest zenith, they became angry and blamed me, the one living person, for the fate at which they arrived. "Yes," I agreed. "You can kill me, and my death will satisfy your thirst for a while, but in the end, you will all still be here, never having returned to your loved ones."

They cried and bellowed with great rage, blindly throwing their spears and breaking others. Finally, some collapsed to the sand in a heap, not at all comprehending that everyone they knew back home was long gone and just as dead as they were. There was really nothing I could do for them except to be there on those particular nights, hoping that they would finally understand. When the sun began to show its face, they would leave, and I would be spent entirely and wiped out. It was nice to see a young couple newly in love this morning; their engagement was a sign of life for me, one that would remind me that I had to keep trying and that one day, the ghosts of these proud warriors would finally move on.

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