Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Jun 7, 2022

Kanikau 2022

Was it a task asked for by her elders?

Or was it a burden? No matter the situation, young Waile'a was charged with composing the Kanikau or chant of lament for the services of her tūtū wahine. She was bereft of any inspiration to put her heartfelt thoughts to paper. Her creative well was dry; there was nothing there. Did it mean that she didnʻt love her tūtū wahine? Of course not, she loved her dearly, and Waileʻa knew her world would never be the same without her beloved grandmother in it.

 "Are you working on it?" Her mother would ask.

 "Is it done yet?" Her father demanded. "Your tūtūʻs service is this Saturday!" 

The pressure was mounting, and there was nothing, no inspiration, no inkling. Waileʻa had all of her tūtū's earthly belongings. Clothes, jewelry, notes in her diary, songs she composed. Old pictures, recordings, and the like. It all drew a blank, but she had to write something, and so she jotted down very generic verses, referring to flowers, plants, scents, and winds or a particular kind of rain, but nothing that tied anything to the memory of her tūtū. Finally, the day of the services arrived, and her parents were pleased with what she showed them even though they expected more. When her time came in the program to present the kanikau, she was nervous as she approached the podium, but once Waileʻa saw her tūtū as she lay in her casket, the dam broke open, and a flood of affection and aloha burst forth.

“Aloha na hale ʻo mākou i makuahineʻole! Ke alanuihele ma uka ʻo Huliwale! Aʻole kahi mea hou aku e ʻike mātou ia ʻoe e tūtū! He mū ka leo, mū mau loa! Auē e ka wahine! Eia no kau kama, kau pua! Auē!" 

"Grief for our home without our mother! The path leads to the mountain Huliwale! No more shall we see you, oh woman! The voice is silent! Silent for too long! Alas, o woman, here is your child, your offspring!


Rain fell, and the wind whipped up and carried the rain into the funeral parlor until it soaked everyone except the casket that held the corporeal form of the beloved tūtū of Waileʻa. Only she and her beloved grandmother remained dry and unsoaked by the rain. Everyone was speechless and had no words to express what theyʻd just experienced. Waileʻa knew then and there that her tūtū did not require a prolonged chant of lament but just one filled with love and aloha and nothing more. 


17A Productions Presents

Lopaka Kapanui at Hawaii Theatre

A LIVE and IN-PERSON storytelling concert at the historic Hawaii Theatre. This master storyteller is one of Hawaii’s most popular teller of tales and has been in the business of scaring people for more than 20 years. Lopaka is terrifically skilled at provoking that sudden chill going down one’s back or causing the small hairs on your arms to stand up. Chicken skin is what we call it in Hawai‘i. Others might refer to it as chills or goosebumps. Sharing real accounts of Hawaii’s supernatural culture, Lopaka often leaves audience members questioning the darkness on their drive home and anxiously leaving the light on at bedtime.


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