Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Sep 8, 2023

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2023. #48 Hauola.

 Hauola was born in Kapiolani Hospital, as most of us were.

When she lay in her mother's arms, the two became acquainted with the mana of the other. An 'apapane appeared outside her hospital window. On the grounds of the hospital, far from its mountain home, a black hiwa pua'a was discovered roaming on the grass below where Hauola's room was. On the day when it was time for little Hauola and her mother to go home, the 'apapane followed her, as did the black pig. No one paid any mind to the manu. To the black pig was paid the intention of catching it and perhaps eating it, but it could never be caught. Eventually, it was left alone. When Hauola and her mama Leipili appeared at the door of my hula halau, the manu and the pua'a came with them. The 'apapane often found a place to perch, and there it would stay unless it had to fly somewhere momentarily. The pua'a lingered at the far corner of the property, perking its ears up only when it was time to leave. Leipili would open the back gate to their truck, and the pua'a jumped in and laid itself on its side. The 'apapane perched on the truck's dashboard or Hauola's shoulders. Sometimes, it nestled itself in the crook of her neck, and there it fell asleep. 

Leipili had been my haumana since she was Hauola's age and was an incredible dancer. She performed in all the shows, learned her chants, dressing, lei making, and learning how to listen to the unheard and see the unseen. At twenty-three, Leipili fell in love with a young man from work. Soon, they were married and had a child. When Hauola was born into the world, her mother was divorced and living with her parents again. Leipili took a break from hula but promised to return I ka wa kupono when things were right. As the years progressed and mother and daughter attended hula religiously, it was clear that hula was as natural to Hauola as breathing. She was captivating, hypnotic, and breathtaking all at once. Her hula sisters loved her. They constantly teased one another about how many men stared at them from the audience and tried to guess which one of the men would give them their number. Most often, that attention was given to Hauola, but she always graciously declined.

All the while, the 'apapane and pua'a were present in some capacity. As for competition, the thought never crossed my mind. How my uncle taught us hula was to learn all the chants, all the dances, kahiko, and hula ku'i. Then, learn to make the implements, lei, and dressing. Once we achieved all the things taught to us, we were gathered at his house in Hau'ula and given the pikai. Then, we were blessed to open our own school and teach. Competition was a word never mentioned. I knew all the kumu hula who did enter competitions, and to me, it seemed like too much work and stress that I did not need. The kumu yelled and screamed at their students, at times berating them. That, to me, was not hula. But each competitive kumu hula who saw Hauola dance told me that if we did compete, she should be entered as a soloist and that she would surely win. One evening, toward the end of Papa Hula, I jokingly mentioned how my other kumu hula friends were trying to get me to enter competitive hula. I laughed as I assured my class that it would not happen. To my surprise, they were all for it. 

Aside from completing the necessary paperwork for the competition and the dances we intended to present, including costuming and the kinds of lei to be worn. I also had to specify if we intended to enter a soloist. The thought went through my mind repeatedly while I taught the halau their Kahiko, Waioli, and their ku'i or 'ala'apapa, Ko'ula. Should I have Hauola be a soloist or not? The only way to find out was to wait until after Papa Hula and take her and Leipilli aside. After an exhaustive, nearly five-hour evening, I sent everyone home and gave them a break from class for two days to rest and rejuvenate. To Leipili and her daughter, I asked them to remain after.

"Lei, I've known you since intermediate school at Ke'elikolani when you were my Hawaiian studies student. There's never been a moment of my life that passed when you were not in it. Now, here we are preparing for competition. I must ask you something, and whatever answer you reply with is fine, so please don't feel pressured," I said.

"Of course, Ronnie," she laughed. "You know me, I don't bruise easily,"

"For that reason," I began. "I would like to ask your permission to train Hauola to be a soloist in this competition,"

"You have to ask her," Leipili gestured to her daughter. "Ultimately, it's up to her, and why are you being so formal? Hello! How many times have you seen me naked when we had no place to change costumes for performances?"

"Hauola," I began. "How do you feel about dancing as a soloist for the competition?"

Innocently, my Hauola replied. "I've known you, Kumu, since the day I was born. All I've ever known is you and hula. You're my Papa that I've never had, and no matter what, you always let my Kiki and Tutua follow me. The least I can do is honor your request."

I hugged her and her mama and sent them home. 

The training was rigorous, and Hauola never once complained. Neither did her hula sisters complain about their training or the long hours. I was so grateful for them. To make a long story short, we entered the competition and placed third. Hauola stole the show with her solo Kahiko, 'E Ho'i Ke Aloha I Ni'ihau,' and her 'ala'apapa, 'Kaua'i Beauty.'

She was the talk of the town, and this girl was so humble that she told the news reporters that she didn't understand why everyone made such a fuss over her. She was just a girl from Palolo who loved hula. That only made people love her more. During the interview, on her shoulder sat the 'apapane, and nearby was the pua'a. What Hauola's mother and I were unaware of was the boy who danced for another Halau who was smitten with Hauola, and she was with him while she watched his halau's performance of 'Aka'uku. A kahiko for Pele and Kamapua'a. The men wore malo with no front or back flap and danced with synchronized abandon. The mana of that dance was potent, taking the breath away from every female who watched. 

Especially, Hauola. 

She introduced herself to him at the after-party. His halau and mine were at the same hotel. So much transpired that no one noticed Hauola and Keala wander off to the waters at Kuhio Bay. By the time we were at the airport, waiting for our flight back to Honolulu, Hauola and Keala were in love. Leipili mentioned that she knew something was wrong when Kiki and Tutua would begin making noise late at night for some reason. They were never that way before. It was Keala being snuck into Hauola's room through her bedroom window. This went on for a while, and nearly a year later, when we were in training for our next venture to the competition, Hauloa arrived late to Papa Hula or sometimes not at all. Often, I would find Leipili scolding her daughter outside, near their car. Even though I was forced to stop class and scold Hauola as her focus was elsewhere, I could see something was wrong. She also began wearing long-sleeved shirts and sweatpants to practice. That is when, for some reason, I also noticed something strange. I approached Leipili and told her to ensure Hauola didn't take off after hula like she'd been doing. Afterward, her mother practically held her waist to ensure her daughter didn't leave.

"Hauola, what is going on? Why aren't Kiki and Tutua here?" I asked.

"I didn't think about that," Leipili gasped while she looked around.

"Lift up your sweater," I demanded. Hauola stepped back, but her mother grabbed her and lifted her sweater above her daughter's head. There were angry, bruised marks everywhere. Leipili grabbed the waistband of her daughter's sweatpants and pulled them open, peering in. "I don't have to see it," I said.

"What the hell is going on?" Her mother demanded.

"Keala's been hitting me," she teared up. "He's jealous; he thinks I'm cheating on him because I did that calendar. He thinks I'm inviting guys to come hook up with me."

We both held on to her, and we all cried for the following hour, promising Hauola we'd get her help, and we did through a restraining order on Keala. It worked; it kept Keala away, and for the following six months, we prepared for the next competition. Hauola was back in complete form and one hundred percent present. Kiki and Tutua were also one hundred percent present as well. Our last practice on 'O'ahu, before we left for Hilo, was our best practice ever. Everything after that was a formality until the actual weekend of the competition. I gave everyone a thirty-minute break, and we would practice the 'ala'apapa when we got back. Our Kahiko this year was 'Ke Ha'a La Puna.' Our modern hula was a Hawaiian language version of 'Pretty Face.'

Hauola's solo was Kau A Hi'iaka for her Kahiko. Her 'ala'apapa was the Hawaiian language version of Roland Cazimero's 'Jealousy,' it was beautiful.

Every emotion born of her time with Keala was beautifully expressed through her dance, every passionate moment, every heartache, every pain. I was discussing the kind of Kaula to use for weaving lei, rafia, or otherwise, so I couldn't decide. The ladies who were there specifically to make those lei were also lost. We heard Kiki chirping madly and Tutua snorting and screaming like a pig does when gutted alive. Three loud, sharp sounds pierced the air, followed by horrific screams. We all ran out to the parking lot in time to see Keala driving off in his car. Laying on the pavement next to their vehicle, with Leipili kneeling next to her, holding her head in her lap, screaming over and over, was Hauola. Her eyes stared off to the left, looking in no particular direction, wholly unfocused. Beneath her was a pool of blood seeping into the pavement. Leipili and I both held on to Hauola, wailing and crying. I don't recall if anyone else that night was screaming or not. It's like I was in my own vacuum, and nothing without existed. Kiki chirped mournfully. Tutu lay down on his side next to Hauola, not making a sound. be continued


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