Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Aug 25, 2022

Aupuni 8 2022

 Aunty Elena, mom's cousin, laughed uproariously and soon turned red.

Mom was laughing too and shaking her head; tears were rolling down her cheeks as she stood up and walked out the door to get some fresh air before she could finally come back inside. "Oh my gosh," mom was still laughing, holding her belly.

"It's not the first time your mama punched somebody out," aunty Elena caught her breath and gave herself a couple of seconds before she continued. "One night, your mama and I were playing Hawaiian music at this Buck Toy Pākē society club,"

"Was for the carpenters union, I think," mom added.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah, that's the one," aunty Elena confirmed. "We had two other cousins; one was playing guitar, Kimo. Then had Scratchy on bass, and then your mama and I played 'ukulele, mine was baritone, and hers was tenor. So I think we were singing Ei nei, yeah?"

"No, no, was Green Rose Hula; how can you forget the song that got us kicked out of the Buck Toy Society club?" It started again between those two, up uproarious laughter. It was a while before they could get themselves back together so the two could continue the rest of the story. "Anyway, there was this one braddah sitting down front, big Podah-gee guy; from where he was sitting, he started trying to tell your aunty Elena that she's playing the wrong keys,"

"That faka kept yelling at me, diminish! Diminish!" Aunty Ella said. "So, I no like cause any kine pilikia, so I ignored the guy, and I let it go,"

"There was a point during the song where everybody is introduced, and they take a solo, so Kimo goes first, then Scratchy, then me, and then aunty Elena,"

"That fuckin' podah-gee wen wait until was my turn, then he wen jump on the stage with his own 'ukulele and wen try bump me away from my microphone," Aunty Elena's eye turned a different shade, one I'd never seen before. "Ho, I grab his shirt from behind, and spin him around, then I punch him right on his chin, He neva go down right away, so I went crack my 'ukulele right ova his head, knock him out cold!"

"That's when the fight started because somebody else came up behind your aunty and grabbed her by her chi-chi, you see; back then, your aunty had just pau surgery on her chi-chi cause they had to take out one lump," I noticed mom had the same look in her eyes like aunty Elena had. "From behind, I kicked that guy in his nuts, he went down, and I kept whacking him with my 'ukulele,"

"And where were Kimo, and Scratchy, the only two men in our group?" Aunty Elena asked mom.

"They ran away those two mahū," she laughed.

"No, for real," Aunty Elena was being serious. "We not making fun; they really were mahū,"

Mom is now curled up in her rocker, laughing; aunty Elena has slid off the couch and is now on the floor laughing. When the two of them managed to bring it all in, I had to ask without seeming rude or ungrateful. "Is there a lesson in this, mom, aunty?"

"Patience," Aunty Elena replied. "When your mama tells you to do something, you do it. There are no questions, no complaining; you just do it. That is a lesson, too, because if you keep asking too many questions, if all you do is talk, you cannot learn what is being taught. You must master listening and seeing with more than your eyes and mouth. You  have to listen to and with your other senses."

"That is the lesson for tonight, the art of patience and listening. This is what you will do from now until sunrise; listen with your other senses," Mom said. "Despite what your aunty just told you, I will not punch you or whack you with an ʻukulele,"

"Eh, play something," Aunty Elena urged mom.

"Oh no, it's too late," Mom protested. "We're going to wake up the neighbors,"

" No need to sing loud," by then, aunty Elena had already removed her 'ukulele from her case and was now handing mom's 'ukulele to her. The two strummed their instruments once or twice and then tuned them by adjusting the keys. Then, with no lead-in to the song, mom began singing, and aunty came in on her 'ukulele. Mom joined in on the fourth strum, and a medium of perfect harmony began.

Ke hoʻomana ʻo nei au nā lā piha hauʻoli

Nā kō kiʻi i lawe mai ka ʻiʻini iā ʻoe

E hoʻi mai hauʻoli hou kāua

He pua mau ʻoe noʻu he minoʻaka mau kou 


Kou mau maka ʻōlinolino ʻimo aku ʻimo mai

E like me nā hōkū o ka lani

Puana nei kuʻu mele iā ʻoe kuʻu pōkiʻi

No nā lā i piha hauʻoli nā lā o ke aloha


He mele no Lahela kuʻu pōkiʻi

Even as I write this, my memories have brought forth tears as I recall the atmosphere and the feeling of that quiet late night filled with the haunting harmonies of aunty Elena's voice, which was so gruff and filled with an 'f' word every few sentences. Yet, her singing voice was angelic, contrasting her personality. Mom's voice filled the entire room, and a yearning magic lived within it. She painted a picture with every word and took your heart on a journey. My aunty, Elena, and mom created a tapestry of music that felt so holy that it could only be heard at a late hour, like that when only the gods were out and about. The song mom sang also happened to be one of her favorites.

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