Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Oct 10, 2023

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2023. #80. Mili.

 Mili told me there was a time when she was absolutely frustrated with her parents and their old, strict Japanese plantation ways.

They wouldn't let her date anyone who was not Japanese or have friends who were not Japanese. She felt stifled and repressed by her parent's overbearing nature. She had a job and a life of her own, and she only lived at home because it was easier financially, but now she saw she would have to find a place and fend for herself. Anything was better than putting up with her mother and father, who still lived in the Middle Ages. Mili said she grabbed her purse and walked without any real idea about where she was going, but she ended up at Starbucks. A short time later, she sat there nursing her coffee and half-eating the pile of Kampio maki sushi from next door. She randomly looked up and saw a young man who might have been a little older than she was seated at the table across from her. A steaming cup of coffee sat before him, and he chewed on a donut while reading the open newspaper. Some of the chocolate sat at the side of his mouth, and Mili couldn't help but try to tell him about it.

"Excuse me?" She waved to get his attention. "You've got some chocolate on the side of your mouth there," she pointed to his face and then to hers.

"Oh," he smiled, nodded, and wiped both sides of his mouth. "Thank you." His voice was deep; it almost vibrated as it came out of him and caught Mili unawares. "I appreciate it." The donut was large, so he broke it in half and offered the uneaten side to Mili. "Please," he said. "I should have known better than to order a donut this size; you can have this half." He'd already put in a napkin and had it in front of Mili. He made it so she had no choice but to take it.

"Thank you," she smiled shyly while taking small bites out of it first before really chewing into it. "My name is Mili,"

"Mili? Is that short for something?" He asked.

"Yes, and it kind of makes me mad because my parents are so against anything that's not Japanese," she said.

"I'm sorry, I don't understand? What does that mean?" He turned to her so that she could see he was facing her.

"Mili is short for Mililani, which is a Hawaiian name they gave me, that makes no sense," she quipped. "It's supposed to mean 'Beloved Heaven.' A Hawaiian man who worked with my father on the plantation gave me the name."

"Well then, your parents can't be completely against anything that's not Japanese. There might be something else that makes them feel that way. Have you asked them why? Oh, excuse my rudeness; I'm Shohei Hatoyama," He bowed slightly, and Mili, not knowing what else to do, returned the bow. "You should ask them why they feel that way; you might be able to understand them a bit more if you do."

"I guess so," she shrugged. 

Shohei finished his donut, folded his newspaper, tucked it under his arm, and stood up to leave. "It was nice meeting you,"

"You too," Mili smiled while simultaneously wiping the chocolate and sugar from the sides of her mouth. "I'm so sorry I can't shake your hand; I've got sugar on it!"

"It's OK, please have a good evening!" He smiled and waved as he walked off.


"My father's cousin was beaten up by some Schofield soldiers during the war. He was just minding his business, and they saw him walking across the street on California Avenue and chased after him. He had nothing to do with the war; he wasn't one of those pilots who bombed Pearl Harbor, but they blamed it all on him, and he lost his life because of it," Koji Kitamura explained to his daughter.

"Same thing with a lot of those Japanese from our parent's time, so much racism against us," her mother interjected. "Better you stay with your own kind,"

"Mom, Dad, I understand where you're coming from, but this is 2023. I should be able to have the friends I have no matter what race they are, the same thing with whom I fall in love. I know I'm Japanese; I can never forget or eliminate it. I can't ever forget that you're my parents, that will never change. I love you both so much," Mili assured them. 

"Oh," Koji replied, still hiding his emotions. "Why did you change your mind all of a sudden?"

"I met a nice young man at Starbucks, and we kind of talked about this, and he told me that I should listen to your side of things, and yes, he was Japanese," Mili assured them. "In fact, his name was Shohei Hatoyama,"

Mili's parents jumped like some electric shock had gone through them. "Hatoyama, Shohei?" Her father exclaimed. "That's my father's cousin who was beaten to death by those soldiers! There's no way you could have met someone with that exact name!"

Mili's mother had already disappeared down the long hallway into the storage closet and soon returned with an old, glossy black and white photo. Showing it to her daughter, it turned out to be the young Japanese man she'd met at the Starbucks. Shohei Hatoyama.

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