Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Jul 6, 2022

Kilo 2022

 "The gods came from there," my grandfather pointed to the night sky while we sat on the roof of our house.

"That's why I built our home here, on this hill. It's a high point and in line with those constellations that belong to Kāne."

"What kind of place is this? Our land, I mean?" I was curious now. 

"Our ʻāina is an old heiau but not the kind for human sacrifice, but for kilohōkū. Astronomy, stargazing, but mainly for communication and communing with our akua, Kāne," my grandfather said. "Our gods live in the stars, and it is on the back of the stars that they travel here, to us."

At such a young age, I was utterly intrigued by his stories of actual gods, who we not only worshipped but revered as forefathers from whom we descended. The thought that it could be true, that someone as ordinary as myself and my aged Hawaiian grandfather possessed the DNA of people who were so divine that they had to live in the heavens, was incomprehensible. It was also very humbling. My grandfather reached down to the rain gutter and removed some dried mango leaves. He withdrew what looked like a thick metallic rod with unusual designs. It was like hieroglyphics but different in a way. "What is that, Papa?"

"This came from the akua the last time they were here," he began. "When I was a boy your age, they came on the back of a star. I saw them land just by the mango tree when it was still not fully grown. I did not know why they were here or what they were doing, but one of them left this behind. I have been waiting for them to return for it all this time."

He handed the thick metallic rod to me. I expected it to be heavy, but it was light as a feather, vibrating with what I can only describe as a kind of vitality like a living thing and not just a piece of metal. "It feels like a part of something," I said.

"Like a part of a person," my grandfather confirmed.

A faint purple glow appeared in the distance behind Diamond head, which meant that the sun was soon to appear. My grandfather let out a sigh and stood up. He held his hand out to me, and I took it, letting him pull me up until I stood next to him. "They only come out at night?" I asked.

"Night is best for them," he nodded. "Any other time would be too much pilikia; people would go crazy."

With that, we walked to the roof's edge, where he descended the ladder first, then waited for me below to ensure I got down safely. Finally, he kissed me on the forehead and shooed me off to sleep. I was filled with excitement, but that was overcome by sleep, and I fell into it the second I lay my head on my pillow. The sounds of my grandfather in the bathroom, turning the water on in the sink to wash his face before he headed off the sleep, was the last thing I heard as my eyes were too heavy to keep open. It was the last time I saw my grandfather alive. He passed during his sleep, but I would not know that until later in the day when my parents came to pick me up and found him in bed. All these years later, it's me sitting on the roof of my grandfather's house, which I bought and renovated. I wait with the unusual metallic rod in my hands for the gods to whom this strange living object belonged to make their return.


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