Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Mar 22, 2022

Infamy 2022

We lived up in Aiea heights, way up. We could see everything, and it was so majestic, and it always made me know how small we were as human beings. A profound thought for someone who was all of six years of age. Our yard was filled with various plants, ferns, and particular kinds of trees because my parents, aside from their regular jobs, were practitioners of Lāʻau lapaʻau or Hawaiian medicine. They were also Kaula or what we would refer to today as prophets. They were good parents, and they both worked at the Pearl Harbor shipyard, and even as I speak of them today, tears well up with affection for them. I remember when my parents had to work on a Sunday.

My sister and I had to get up early, prepare our own breakfast, and then water the yard, the plants, ferns, and trees.

In the process, we had to remove weeds so they wouldnʻt choke out any of the plants that gave life. The planting and picking and digging up of those items were solely done by my folks; we couldnʻt do any of it until we were properly trained. We were then required to read a book that my parents would set out for us on the living room table when we were done. We could read the book anywhere we wanted as long as we read the book from cover to cover. I had the weird idea to read it on the roof of our house. It was still early and overcast, so the top was not scorching hot. My sister Ester thought it was a bad idea, so she decided to layout a lauhala mat on the grass near the fence so that she could see me and I could see here. She read her biology book and periodically looked up at me to see if I was safe. I know that my mother left out 'A Tree Grows In Brooklyn' because as well as the books she read about our own culture, she was always curious about stories from other cultures. It was her way of trying to better understand the haole people she worked with. My father didnʻt care much for them because of their behavior and how they talked down to other Hawaiians and anyone else who was brown-skinned.

Make no mistake, though, my mother was not a pushover, and she had no fear of any man who tested her mettle, but she felt that trying to understand who a person was, was very important before one decided there was no hope for them. Then youʻre left with no choice but to knock them flat on their back. Working at the Pearl Harbor shipyard was a tricky business, and in a way, because she was a woman, my mother had to be tougher than my father. The story was long, and I found myself nodding off. Finally, I got to the part in the book where the Neelys are moving into their new home next to the overcrowded school, and thatʻs as far as I got. My body relaxed, and the big book gently fell out of my hands. My head came to rest on my arm, and my breathing slowed down. When I woke up, I was lying on the lauhala mat in the yard with Ester and my parents sitting around me. Ester was crying and worried, and my parents were distraught. While at work, my parents were struck with a vision that I fell off the roof and broke my neck. The vision was so strong that they told their foreman that they had to go home because of an accident. They drove up to the house just in time to see me slowly rolling off the roof. My father shot out of the car, ran into the yard, and caught me just in time. Needless to say, my father swatted me on my ʻelemu, but my mother stopped him. "If we didnʻt get here in time and he did break his neck, would you still have hit him then?"

My father realized she was right, and he grabbed me in his arms and cried. My mother and Ester did, too; I cried because I felt so horrible that I made them worry, and I also apologized for doing something so stupid. Thatʻs when we heard the explosions and saw the planes flying around, and some flew overhead. It was Pearl Harbor, where my parents had just come from. We would soon find out that the base was bombed by zero planes sent from the Japanese empire. In hindsight, my parentsʻ vision of my death caused them to come home just in time to save my life, but perhaps my act of stupidity saved theirs? I still think about it, until today.

credit: Pinterest



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