Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Jun 6, 2022

Leiʻala 2022

A Vietnam veteran remembers the day he stepped off the plane at the old Honolulu airport. Of all places, the least location he expected to see protesters against the war was at home, at the airport. He said the air went out of him as if surviving the war in service to his country was pointless. He intimated that he felt stuck, as if there were no way to exit the airport without being confronted by one person or a group of people who were against the war. "Are you alright young man? You look troubled?" An old Hawaiian woman stood there with a ginger lei in her hand. "Where is your family? How come they're not here to greet you?"

"I'm early," the young version of himself replied. "I was looking for a payphone to call home and let my parents know I'm here."

"It must have been such a long flight," the old Hawaiian woman said as she draped her ginger lei around his shoulders. "After you call your folks, you should sit down and relax. It must have been a very long flight home, no?"

The veteran told me that he and the old Hawaiian woman sat and talked until it was time to head out to the sidewalk where his family would pick him up. "We talked about what high school I went to, the people I knew, and my mother's maiden name. Then, before I knew it, it was time go. I thanked that kupuna, and she gave me a big hug.

"Welcome home, Kawika," she said. "Aloha!" The old Hawaiian woman walked away, heading toward the gates where a group came through the terminal.

"Tūtū!" The veteran called out. "I didnʻt get your name?"

"Leiʻala," she smiled and went about her way.

"When my parents picked me up, we hugged and cried, and I finally got myself and my bags in the car; we were on the way home, and my mother noticed my ginger lei and asked me where I got the lei. I told her it was given to me by an old Hawaiian woman at the airport and that she sat with me until it was time go,"

"Did you get her name?" My mother asked.

"Leiʻala," I replied. My dadʻs station wagon came to a screeching halt. He turned around and gave me a strange look before pulling off the road.

"Leiʻala?" My dad questioned. "Are you sure?"

"Yes, dad," I replied. "Why?"

"Leiʻala was my great-grandmother," my father sat there with tears welling up. "She was hardly seen without a ginger lei; it was her favorite. Thatʻs why she was named Leiʻalaikeʻawapuhi, The fragrant ginger lei. She was welcoming you home, son."

"I was shocked, but my parents sat there for a few more minutes, crying, and knowing that with the trouble and worry I experienced at the airport, my great, great, tūtū lady came and kept me safe until it was time to go home," he shared. "True story, true story."


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.


1 comment: