Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Mar 10, 2022

Olonā 2022

On the way to hula practice at Moanalua gardens, I came across a Hawaiian woman in the parking lot wrapping cords of olonā on a spool.

She sat on a chair propped up against the hedges while people walked past her without any acknowledgment. Finally, we made eye contact, and she asked me, "Pahi? You get Pahi?" She was asking if I had a knife, which I did. I always carried one with me in case of emergencies or whatever. " ʻAe," I replied. "Loaʻa ka pahi," I removed it from my pocket and showed it to her. She pulled a cord taught in front of her and nodded. I opened my knife and cut the olonā in the place she wanted. Relieved, she replied, "Mahalo Nui," and went back to wrapping the olonā on a spool.

When I got to the far end of the gardens near the stream, I happened to tell my Kumu about what had just happened. Without missing a beat, he said, "When you go back out to the parking lot after hula, sheʻs going ask you to cut the olonā again. Instead of using your knife," my Kumu instructed. "use mine rather than yours." He took my knife from me and removed his own knife from his pocket. Nothing more was said, and we proceeded with the hula instructions for the day. After three hours, the lessons were done, and we departed with the honi and the hā. My kumuʻs ride picked him up right outside the park near the freeway; I walked all the way back to the parking lot where my car was. Just as my Kumu told me, the Hawaiian woman was still there, winding her olonā on a spool. As just as my Kumu said, the Hawaiian woman asked me to cut a cord of her olonā. Using the knife my Kumu gave me, I cut the line without any incident, but the Hawaiian woman scoffed and spat on the ground instead of being thankful this time. She gathered her olonā and her spool and walked off into the park, going right past the security guard who was in the process of telling people who were trying to gain entrance that the park was closed. When I returned home, I received a call from my Kumu.

"Did you see that Hawaiian woman again, and did you cut her olonā?" He asked.

"I did," I replied. "But why did you give me your knife and not let me use my own?"

"Because," he said. "The blade of your knife became dull once you cut that womanʻs olonā, you needed a fresh blade. She was a moʻo wahine, a very kolohe one. If you used that same knife, and it didnʻt cut her olonā, she would have asked you to do something else. Whatever that something else might have been, it would have led to more things for you to do for her until it would eventually cost you your life. Especially now since you are under hula kapu."

A lesson learned is that even while in the process of spiritual education on the middle path, there will always be someone or something to lead you astray. Even a Hawaiian woman in need of help.

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