Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Mar 16, 2022

Ulana 'Elua 2022

There was yelling downstairs, and it was four in the afternoon.

My grandpa woke me up in the morning to administer the lāʻau of Pōpolo tea. After, he fed me breakfast, and soon I was put back to rest. Was it true what grandpa said? That it was pneumonia compounded by a curse sent to me to make my father suffer? The yelling was between my grandpa and my father; Iʻve never heard my grandpa raise his voice before; it was like he was someone else, not the person with the soothing voice that took my worries about being sick and weak away. It was an argument. Its tone told me that my father was losing. During the whole term, I could hear my grandmaʻs voice interjecting, trying to make the two men she loved the most see reason, but my grandpa was not having it. Footsteps stormed off across the wooden floor, and the double doors at the front entrance opened and slammed shut.

I could hear how upset my grandma was, she raised her voice too and was yelling at grandpa, but he didnʻt yell back. Instead, he replied in his usual tone, not sounding upset. Finally, the argument stopped, and I could hear them coming up the stairs. They entered the study, and grandma came over and kissed me on the forehead while grandpa checked on the tea to see if I needed more. "Are you feeling better, my pokiʻi?" Grandma asked. "I made some chicken long rice soup with ginger for you, it should be ready soon, and Iʻll bring it up, ok?"

"Ok, grandma," I croaked. When she left, I looked over at my grandpa, who was just sitting at this desk, and began looking through some documents. "Were you yelling at my dad downstairs?"

"Yes," no sugarcoating there; grandpa never held back because, like I said, he did it in three words or less. So at least you knew what to expect when it came to him. 

"How come?" I guess it was because I was sick that I expected some kind of sympathy from him, some kind of gentle explanation that would relieve my worry and not worsen my condition. No such luck. 

"Because he is having a bout of stupid, so I told him unless he becomes smarter, he canʻt take you home,"

"But what happens when I get better?" I asked.

"You will still be with us if your father hasn't downgraded himself to a moron," my grandpa confirmed. 

"Does this have to do with the curse you talked about?" That question gave my grandfather pause; he regarded me for a second before answering my question.

"Yes," he nodded. "It has everything to do with that."

"But why didn't the curse go to my dad if that's who it was for?" Grandpa ignored my question and gave me a small piece of lemon peel to keep in my mouth until it became soft and I could chew on it. My grandmother opened the door and came in with a hot bowl of chicken, long rice, and ginger. Grandpa pulled up a mini fold-out table from his closet and placed it over my lap. Grandma set it there very carefully and fed me the first few bites. It tasted so good with the lemon peel in my mouth that I forgot about my question.

"I think Analū is big enough to feed himself e kuʻu aloha," my grandpa said to my grandma. E kuʻu aloha was grandpaʻs term of affection for grandma. It meant, my love.

"Do you think you are?" My grandmother asked me, just to make sure. I nodded, and she made this whole big ceremony of handing me the spoon. "I guess you donʻt need your tūtū to feed you anymore?"

"The first few bites, I do," I reassured her. She went dewey-eyed and gave me a kiss on my forehead. For the duration of the time, grandma turned on some Quincy Jones and sat at my bedside reading a book until I was done with my meal. 

"Do you know how to draw yourself a bath so that you donʻt make the water too hot or cold?" Grandpa asked.

"I do," I nodded.

"Alright then," he got up from his chair and went into his cabinet and brought out a change of some of my clothes and a clean bath towel. He helped me out of bed, ensuring that I was standing on my feet. My legs wobbled as I tried to walk, and I nearly stumbled to the floor, but grandpa caught me. Man, for someone his age, my grandpa was really strong. We walked to the bathroom across the hall from his study to find a bath had already been made.

"Your grandmother," Grandpa chuckled. "Sheʻs always ten steps ahead and twenty moves out of sight. Of course, no one will bother you while youʻre bathing, but Iʻm going to leave the door slightly open. So in case you need anything, just call me."

"But grandpa, you never leave your study door open," I gasped at this breach of his own rules.

"This is an exception," there was a sly smirk on his face. "There may not be other exceptions in the future, so appreciate this one." He was true to his word. His study door was open the entire time I sat in the bathtub. My grandmother put healing salt from Hanapēpē in the water; it felt good and mixed well. I perspired and took deep breaths. A week had passed since I bathed at home; this was nice. The pneumonia was still there, or was it the curse? I wasnʻt sure. While I sat soaking in hot water, I heard my grandpaʻs desk chair adust itself with a slight creak. I could see that he wasnʻt looking directly at me, but he was not looking away either. He was looking beyond me. 

"With the wind filling the sails of her magnificent double-hulled canoe, Pele moved seamlessly across the ocean. She stood at the prow of the great vehicle, which bore herself and her entire family toward the north. Leading the navigators in his shark form was Peleʻs eldest and most sacred brother Kamohoaliʻi. His massive fin, the size of a small island, was the fixed point to which the navigators set their path. Young Peleʻs life was at stake for the grievous sin she committed, unintended or not; this was the last act that Namakaokahaʻi would endure from her petulant younger sister. This time, there was no forgiveness, no coming together to partake of ʻawa while immersing themselves in a reconciliation ceremony, only to have it be broken by her fiery sister's impulses. Taking her husband before their nuptials was one thing, but burning down her side of the island and her innocent family, who was entirely faultless, broke something in Namakaokahaʻi. She realized that this would be her life's path as long as Pele was alive. Her younger sister would continue to destroy all that mattered to her. Peleʻs life had to be forfeited; there was no other way." The look, the expression on my grandpaʻs face. I canʻt describe it except that wherever that story was, he was there in the thick of it, watching it all happen right before him. Painting each event with words as it unfolded. "Kānehekili and Kānewāwahilani, two brothers of Pele, stood beside her, offering words of comfort," my grandpa said. "How now, sister of ours? There is no need to worry; we are abroad and on our way to the fabled homeland in the north. All shall not be lost as our eldest, most sacred brother leads us with his kapu." The young fire goddess turned to her brothers, embraced them with a honi, and replied. "Now we are cast away from the home that was once ours, never to return. Now we flee for our very lives because of my impatience. Namakaokahaʻi does not come to reason together but to bring death instead. Perhaps my life may be all that is needed to quell her temper and that for the rest of you, my beloved kinsman, she will spare thee?" 

"We are not men, in the way that men live and die, and speak among each other," Kānehekili scolded his sister. "We are gods born of the various points of our motherʻs body, Namakaokahaʻi is not the only one of her kind. We are here for you, sister, your kinsman who will die if need be."

"Let us not be hasty," young Pele admonished her brother. "Lest we all die and never see the fabled homeland to the north. Then, what would be the point of this journey?"


They were not yet in sight, but the great canoe Honua-ia-kea belonging to her younger sister would soon appear over the vast horizon where Namakaokahaʻi promised herself to swamp it and let drown each one and save Pele for last. Accompanied by two mighty moʻo, Namakaokahaʻi traveled on a tidal wave that blotted the sun. Where the chief Kama and his fleet of kinsmen sailed after a long sojourn of fishing for the hīhīmanu and its treasured tale, he noted what appeared to be a rogue wave, traveling hard and fast. It was vast and stretched from horizon to horizon, and it grew higher and higher until Kama could not see the sun. Then, finally, everything went dark, and Kama realized the futility in calling out any command for his steersman to do anything. Death was unexpected on this day, but it was undeniable. It would get what it came for. Riding high on the monstrous tidal wave was a woman of unsurpassed beauty, except that in her eyes was a cold rage. There was no mercy in her gaze, only death. "Greetings, oh great Namakaokahaʻi! What anger moves you now takes the lives of myself and my kinsman; I only beg that you give us a swift end and that in your mercy, you let our families know of what happened this day!" Grandpa went silent for a second or two. "The great goddess of the ocean gazed at Kama, and her heart was filled with a morsel of mercy," he whispered. "Oh Kama, as the lives of my own kinsmen were taken by one whose impulsive nature brought about their end, I spare thee that you and yours may live this day to return home and tell your families of the mercy given today! Live oh Kama, and remember this day!" The great ocean parted, and Kama and his fleet lived to tell the tale of Namakaokahaʻiʻs pursuit of the young Pele, sailing toward the fabled homeland in the north, where she hoped that her older sister would give up the chase and let her live.

"Did she grandpa?" I heard myself ask.

"Did she what?" He replied.

"Did she give up the chase and let Pele live?" I had to know.

"Your bath is over," he replied. "You donʻt want to get more sick since the water is now cold. Come out and dry yourself, and weʻll continue this story tomorrow." I heard another moan from my younger self on the digital recorder and a simultaneous groan of 'shit' from my present self. be continued

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