Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Mar 17, 2022

Ulana ʻEkolu 2022

"Pele first arrived at the island we know as Nihoa but found it was too uninhabitable for her family as no fires could be stoked with her great digging stick Paoa. The ground was too shallow, and all that turned up was seawater, so she and her family sailed west," this man was magic in that within the tapestry of this ancient story, he made me feel relevance. He and I, we were both there and not just observers. "The ocean spray played across the deck of the double-hulled canoe, and some of young Pele's family expressed the need for freshwater to bathe. Kamohoali'i dove down into the first strata of the deep ocean and collected fresh water from a spring which he collected into a mighty gourd. All were able to bathe as the great honua-ia-kea sailed to its next destination. Before Pele was the island called Ni'ihau which she took sympathy for, worrying that it might be much too small to stoke the fires she would need to home her family. Her brother, another shark god, Kūhaimoana, entreated his sister to try. Raising Paoa over her head, she struck the ground, and it rumbled. The earth parted, and a fiery red and orange glow manifested between the cracks; there was a gasp of surprise and joy from her family, and it seemed as if their long trek across the ocean was over. That is until the voice of Kūhaimoana went up, "There! There over the horizon! We must go now!" The undeniable wave of water stretching from point to point, with Namakaokahaʻi riding high above with her two monstrous moʻo beside her, was fast approaching! Her family quickly boarded the great canoe while Pele billowed the sails with a blast of her warm breath. With Kūhaimoana at her side, she embraced with him a honi and said, "Stay my brother, and beg of our older sister to only peel out the fires which I have summoned, but to spare the people. Stay and be the ʻaumakua for those who inhabit this place. Wait for me, as I will return." My grandpa lowered his head in honor of the duty which Kūhaimoana was about to perform. "Indeed, Namakaokahaʻi arrived in all her fury and madness, and before she could enact her revenge on young Peleʻs fires as if the flames were the fire goddess herself, she was stopped by Kūhaimoana who stood on the sands of Puʻuwai. "How now, elder sister? You come intending to mute the flames left here by our sister Pele, but I ask you to weigh the consequences of drowning out the fires of Pele and the fires of human life on this island. They are faultless and have no stake in this game of revenge between you!"

"My own kinsman, my own people too were faultless when Pele burnt them to ash, and yet this is the second time I am asked to show compassion!" Namakaokahaʻi raged.

"We are family born of the same mother, my elder sister, although not of your side of our home island, we are connected by the same bloodline," Kūhaimoana said. " I am now the ʻaumakua of these people, and I ask you to let their generations succeed them. None of us can stand against you, but I beg you to take only the fires and nothing more."

"Oh my god," I heard myself whisper in a low tone filled with dread.

"With a furious roar of anger and frustration," my grandpa began. "Namakaokhaʻi did precisely that; she drowned out the volcanic fires brought forth by Pele but spared the lives of the Niʻihau people. From that time on, the Niʻihau people lived under the protection of Kūhaimoana, the shark brother of Pele. Finally, the fire goddess made her way across the channel to Kamawaelualani, but there also was unsuccessful as Namakaokahaʻi was literally right behind her, but his time Pele was smart. She created an illusion of more fire than there really was, which gave her enough time to sail to Oahu to find a home for her family."

"Namakaokahaʻi is really mad, isnʻt she grandpa?" I heard myself ask in that voice that had not yet reached maturity. I sounded like one of those altar boys from Saint Josephʻs.

"But," grandpa said. "So far, she has shown compassion for human life, so there is one redeeming quality about her."

"Now sheʻs on Oahu," my voice on the recording is so funny, I was completely engaged. 

"They stop in the Kahana, Kaʻaʻawa area to rest and refresh themselves. Some go to the falls in the back of the valley to bathe. Others stay near Honua-ia-kea; Pele herself has a pet dog which she has brought with her along the way. This is no ordinary dog; it is the size of a juvenile elephant and has otherworldly powers. Pele and her dog go for a walk. The walk gives Pele time to think about her next strategy. She realizes that she will have to stand and face her sister. At this moment, Pele heard the sound of the pū (conch shell ) of Kamohoaliʻi. The time had come to move on. Pele felt an affinity for this peaceful, quiet location on Oahuʻs koʻolau side. Turning to her dog, she said, "Stay awhile here and wait for me until I return. I will come as a great flaming orb of fire through the heavens. Then shall we two return to wherever our home may become," the dog sat on the very spot where Pele asked him to remain. At the same time, she journeyed on to find a new home for them. On Oahu, Pele was unsuccessful as each area where she stopped to dig a pit of fire with Paoa was muted out by the waters of Namakaokahaʻi. Her frustration grew as the same success proved fruitless on Molokai, Lanai, and Kahoʻolawe. There was only Maui left, and by that time, Pele had had enough."

On the recorder, in the background, I could hear pounding from somewhere. The sound was coming from downstairs, and my grandpa muttered, "Stay here, Iʻll be right back." Grandpa did not lumber down the stairs; his steps were careful and meticulous. A few seconds later, I heard my fatherʻs voice. " Iʻm taking Analū home,"

"Would you care to explain why youʻre filing for a divorce from Maria?" My grandpa asked. I didnʻt know what a divorce was or what it meant, but whatever it was, it must not have been good. Grandpa was using that voice he uses when heʻs about to eviscerate someone. 

"I see mom told you," my dadʻs tone was flippant. Not good, not good at all.

"Mom didnʻt have to tell me anything; Iʻve been watching you," grandpa began. "At the Sunday gatherings, at work, and when its time to pick up or drop off Analū at school. Youʻre body is there, but your mind is somewhere else, and youʻve constantly got your face in your phone or your iPad, so yes, the signs were already there."

"Itʻs just not working out, dad," my father said. "Maria is either occupied with work, her night classes, or sheʻs yelling at me about the Analū. I canʻt take her selfishness, so this is whatʻs best."

"Best for who? You?" Grandpa asked. "Because itʻs certainly not best for Maria and Analū."

"I told you, dad, Maria is preoccupied; sheʻs the one whose mind is somewhere else," my dad was trying to sound exhausted like the world's weight was on his shoulders, but grandpa saw right through it.

"Hmmm, letʻs see," grandpa mused. "Maria works a full-time job, and sheʻs putting herself through a night class which has to do with her job so that once she gets her degree, that will mean a higher paygrade so that all of you can live a bit more comfortably. All of this while sheʻs raising Analū, so in her exhaustion, sheʻs asking you to help her with your son. You, Andrew senior, have only one job and a lot of spare time when youʻre not at work. For some reason, you canʻt be bothered to help out? So, in essence, it sounds like Maria is doing everything for your family, while all youʻre doing is shit,"

"Dad, thatʻs not how it is; you donʻt know the whole picture," my father protested.

"Hereʻs what I do know, and it's not rocket science," now, grandpa was digging in, and my dad was going to get it. "You met some young woman at work who youʻve been sleeping with, and thatʻs why your face is always on your phone. Thatʻs why youʻre disconnected. If you think divorcing your wife so you can be with this girl will make your life easier, you are sadly mistaken. Youʻre a selfish idiot you donʻt deserve Maria or Analū,"

"Heʻs my son and I can take him when I want," my father was getting edgy.

"Youʻll take him when you break it off with that girl and fix your family," grandpa replied.

"What?" Oooo, my dad is talking to grandpa like heʻs stupid. Bad mistake.

"You are not divorcing Maria, you are going to fix your marriage, and you will be a good husband and father, Andrew, and you are going to stop this affair of yours right now!"

"And if I donʻt?" My father retorted.

"Then Maria and Analū will live with us, and I wonʻt have a son," there was silence from my father; he had no intelligent answer to come back with. "Iʻve also called CPS, I told them everything just in case youʻre thinking of taking that route."

"Dad, this isnʻt fair," my dad was begging now.

"What isnʻt fair is how youʻre treating Maria, and how youʻve been running around with that woman while your son is suffering from Pneumonia! What is wrong with you? I didnʻt raise you this way, so what the hell happened?"

"Iʻve been out of work for a while, I havenʻt told Maria about it," my dad finally confessed.

"Then how the hell have you been surviving all this time?" My grandpa was beside himself because of what my father had told him.

"Iʻve got a large private savings account that Maria doesnʻt know about," my dad sounded defeated. The air just went right out of him.

"Did you get fired? And what were you going to do if Maria called you at work?"

"I was skimming off the top, but when my boss found out, he was nice enough to give me the option of resigning. He knew I had a wife and kid; I guess he didnʻt want to have me arrested," I heard my dad walk across the foyer, and I heard a creaking sound which meant he sat in a chair downstairs. "That woman youʻre referring to? I met her in the bar I sat at during the day until I had to get Analū from school. So I sit there in my suit and tie pretending to Maria that Iʻm at work."

"Oh my god, Andrew," I could see my grandpa putting his face in his hands or rubbing his forehead. "You go end that affair with whoever that is; I donʻt want to know her name. Then you really apologize to Maria and tell her everything. Do you understand me?"

"Yes, Dad," my father answered. "I understand, but eventually, my savings will run out. So what am I going to do for money when that happens?"

"You come work for me," Grandpa told him. "Youʻll do all the proofreading and editing, and youʻll help your mother with all the online stuff and promotions. You get all that taken care of, and you can either take Analū home, or the three of you can come to live with your mom and me. Itʻs up to you." It was the first time I heard my father cry like his heart was breaking into a million pieces. Then, I heard myself running downstairs and stopping suddenly. I listened to my grandpa whisper, "Sssshhhh," but I donʻt remember if that was for my father or me. "Go upstairs; weʻll finish tomorrow," he mouthed the words, and I did as he said. Eventually, my dad left, and my grandpa came back upstairs to the study. The second I saw my grandpa, I burst out crying, and he came over and held on to me. "Itʻs alright Analū, itʻs going to be alright."

Grandma walked in just then and joined us until it was all over. "What is this all about? Does it have to do with Andrew leaving here in tears, giving me a big hug, and telling me heʻs sorry?"

"Yes," grandpa confessed. "But right now, Analū needs some rest so that we can continue with the rest of the story tomorrow." be continued

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