Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Sep 29, 2022

Kaʻao 2022

During a time known only to those who lived in the days of our ancestors were two brothers, Kua and Hiapo.

Both were born to ordinary parents and came from a humble life of farming, fishing, and the skill of making weapons. When the Konohiki of the area found himself in need of able-bodied warriors who could serve in the war campaigns of their paramount aliʻi, he called upon the two brothers. In battle, Kua and Hiapo were peerless and fought back to back if they found themselves in a situation requiring such action. The brothers were noted for their bravery and no-nonsense character, which served them well in many wars, and were therefore sought after to join the ranks of the mōʻī of ʻOʻahu island. The benefits they gained from their loyal service to their aliʻi were heaped upon their parents, whom the two brothers loved and cared for. Kua and Hiapo did all the work needed in and around their home and land. Although they were accustomed to a life of labor and back-breaking employment, the brothers' parents found that they needn't lift a finger towards any kind of effort that would darken their backs under the sun. If it were not their sons, the servants of Kua and Hiapo were there to ensure that the parents were comfortable and well cared for. Soon, the brothers took wives and gave their parents healthy grandchildren whom they could enjoy and spoil as much as they wanted. 

"Such good sons, have we," the parents marveled to one another. "Such are the gods that we have loyally served, who gave us two good boys to raise, who now care for us in our dotage,"

"Such trusted soldiers are they, in the army of our great ali'i," the father beamed with pride. 

"The land from the tip of the mountain there, to the flats lands and to the horizon, has our ali'i given to our sons as payment," the mother agreed.

"It is on these lands that our bones will rest with our ancestors," the husband pressed his forehead to that of his wife.

In due time, another war had come, which could not be avoided for as much as the aliʻi tried. He campaigned for peace, and some sort of accord where all could exist in harmony if everyone agreed to share the apportioned land left to them by father. The elder brother of the aliʻi wanted it all to himself and would not listen to reason. War was forced upon the aliʻi; thus, all paths to peace were cut off. Kua and Hiapo girded their malo and gathered their weapons and their own soldiers, which they had acquired and trained themselves, as their lands and reputation expanded. After bidding their goodbyes to their wives, children, and parents, Kua and Hiapo addressed their retinue when suddenly they saw their several eldest sons standing in the formation.

"Step out, you six," Kua commanded. 

"You heard him," Hiapo chimed in. "Step out,"

"We go to fight this war with you fathers," the eldest boy protested. "As we have done in other wars,"

"Then today you go to die," Hiapo scolded.

"Today is not that day," Kua added. "You sons will remain here to protect your kūpuna, your mothers, your siblings, and the bones of our ancestors,"

"If you are wont to die, then let it be here, protecting your family and this land. Spill the blood of our enemies here on our clump of dirt before you spill your own," Hiapo said. 

Left with no choice, the eldest sons remained behind with their detail while their fathers marched off to war. Everyone watched until the forms of their loved ones disappeared over the final path leading out of their valley. In a month, no word had come regarding the result of the war. Another month passed, and still no word. Finally, by the beginning of the third month, the eldest sons gathered and took upon themselves just cause to go and discover what had become of their fathers. Marching off, they all bid their farewells with promises to return shortly. They, too, disappeared and never returned. In short order, it became the task of the mothers to journey the long path out of the valley, to know the fate of their husbands and sons. The woman Lī and her sister-in-law Kō traversed the long inclined path, periodically looking back on the homes on their vast expanse of land and the small ant-like forms in the distance waving at them. As they gave their last wave, they came over the rise and had not even ventured three steps before they were struck speechless by what they saw. 

Credit: John G.

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