Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Sep 17, 2023

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2023. #57 Hauola: Coming Home.

She was its patron spirit.

It's 'aumakua. She guarded the place and all who came into it. Bathing it in her blessings and aloha. Every good and not-so-good event that transpired in its walls and under its roof, whether benign or significant, came under her protection. As a guardian spirit, she could not interfere in the affairs of humankind. Still, she could lend divine direction as the people in the space erected a kuahu or altar in her name to ho'omana, the essence of her 'iwi, since she was no longer flesh and blood. They recited the chant composed in her name before and after their practice sessions. She loved seeing their joy and struggle, not just in the halau but in life. As the kumu put them through their paces, she would retire to the edge of the parking lot and watch everything as if she were watching television programming. She knew each vehicle and which persons arrived and departed in them. Watching their faces as they drove up, it was apparent whose day transitioned well, whose mind was fettered with the worries of mundane life, and who was there to completely commit themselves to the dance, being a hundred percent present. Those were the fortunate ones; the others would shed the events of their day once they stood in the mana circle, joining hands with their brothers and sisters. The chant they gave summoned what needed to depart so that the spirit of the hula could take its place and they could all dance as one. This evening, the kumu was back at basics. Fine-tuning steps, hand, and feet placement, along with the body's position, when the eyes follow the hands, and when they should look out to the lehulehu. 

Something caught the corner of her eye. A young Hawaiian boy dressed in a formal Marine service uniform came up the left rise, which led into the parking lot. He seemed to be peering into the confines of the halau as if he were looking for someone. He must have seen whomever he was looking for because his demeanor changed, and a warm smile came across his face. Randomly looking around, he saw the 'aumakua standing there and walked in her direction, needing to figure out who she was. He beheld a beautiful Hawaiian girl with her hair pulled back at the top and the rest falling about her shoulders. She wore a hoodie made of thin material and, underneath it, a shirt with a fading picture of George Helm, which, in life, people often mistook for Che' Guevara. She also wore board shorts and old zoris. 

"Kala mai," he removed his beret and bowed slightly. "I'm Edward; I'm just waiting for my mom. She's in there right now, practicing."

"Aunty Zelda Ka'ohu, right?" The 'aumakua confirmed. 

"Yes, that's her; Dad says she never misses a day of hula," Edward said. 

"She's one of the front-line dancers," the 'aumakua nodded in Zelda's direction. "My mama is thinking about making her 'olapa,"

"What is that?" Edward asked.

"It means she'll be one of the top dancers in the halau, but that will also come with more responsibility," the 'aumakua said. "More will be expected of her."

"My mom can handle it," Edward laughed. "She's tough; even my dad is scared of her," he giggled. "Of course, you could never say that in front of my dad."

"Is she expecting you?" The 'aumakua asked.

"No, she has no idea," Edward looked at his mother dancing, basking in her aloha for hula and her skill at channeling the dance. 

Before the 'aumakua could question Edward any further, a vehicle of official appearance came into the parking lot and found a space to park. At this point, the kumu called for a break after seeing the vehicle pull up. Some sat on the floor drinking from their flasks, others went to the bathroom, and others went outside for fresh air. Two young Hawaiian men emerged from the official-looking vehicle dressed similarly to Edward in their formal army service uniforms. To everyone's surprise, the two Hawaiian soldiers stood at the entrance to the halau, removed their shoes and their berets, and chanted an 'oli kahea.

Kalaku hilo i ka ua nui, kapu ka nu, ka 'i, ka pua o ka leo

i ka hama hamau, hamau kakou, i hawanawana, i ke kunou maka

i ka 'awihi maka, i ka 'alawa iki e..

Eia au kou hoa e, kou hoa e, mai pa'a i ta leo

he 'ole kahea mai...

the kumu was a bit surprised, but in earnest, she returned the answer with an 'oli komo.

E hea i ke kanaka e komo ma loko

e hanai ai ka hewa i ka waha,

eia no ka 'uku la o ka leo

a he leo wale no e...

When both chants were given, back and forth, all within the confines of the halau stood up with their heads slightly bowed and their hands clasped together before them. The two soldiers entered, and they were received with honi by each member. When it was done, the halau was asked to sit while the soldiers were allowed to make their visit known to everyone, as was given directions by the kumu. The more decorated of the two stepped forward, tears flowing from his eyes. "Mrs. Zelda Ka'ohu?"

" 'Ae, I'm Zelda," she stood tall at her full height with pride as she'd been taught in hula.

"Mama, I'm Sergeant Kyle Pi'imoku. The commander of the Marine United States Army has entrusted me to express his deep regret that your son Edward Ka'ohu was killed in action in Kandahar, Afghanistan City, on August 12 at 1:32 p.m. while laying down suppressive fire; he gave his unit time to escape. After which he was mortally wounded. The commander extends his deepest sympathy to you and your family in your loss." The sergeant and his fellow soldiers could not suppress their tears, which was contrary to their duty. 

"I knew," Zelda replied. "I already knew,"

Edward watched as the entire halau came together to comfort Zelda and the two Hawaiian soldiers. They all stayed for another hour, talking and getting to know one another. Soon, Edward's father, Palani drove up and broke down himself after being told of the news. 

"My mom was so busy today that she forgot to tell my dad that I came to see her in her dream last night. There was no better place for my mom to find out than here, where she loves to be," Edward said. "I have to apologize again; I never got your name?"

"Hauola," the 'aumakua said.

"You're a spirit too? Do you belong to anyone in there?" Edward pointed toward the halau.

"Everyone, but more particularly to my mama, who is the kumu of the halau. It's named after me, you know?" Hauola smiled. "You don't have to worry. Your mama is in good hands, and you can come visit her anytime you want."

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