Kapahulu- Still get flames at her luʻau feet. For Cuz Erica

The scene opens with the alarming sound of Butchie Girl, Kaika's favorite dog, barking  like crazy from somewhere near the lehua taro patch on the mauka side of the house. The profiles of a younger and an older woman appear against the far wall of the stage which is covered in a deep, 'ena 'ena-red glow, Kaika steps forward addressing the audience.

KAIKA-So Aunty Nani came out of the house, slowly, down the creaking, rickety steps, onto the balding patch of grass, then sets foot on the wave-crashing, black sand beach. She approached Tutu. (Kaika then looks back onto the stage as the two women in profile begin their dialogue) .

NANI-Ma, we gotta leave real soon.( She takes her gently by the hand, and softly strokes her handful of thin, bony skin. Soft, cool skin, rounded by old bones, like the 'ili'ili pebbles on the beach. )

MA-Where we going Nanikawaili'uokalani? This is our 'aina, my poor grandfather lost everything, he even had to give up his rusty old jalopy,so he could save this land for his mo'opuna. When he sold the jalopy, we came even more poor, he couldn't drive into Hilo, the big town, to sell da 'opihi he broke his back to pick. We had to walk on rough gravel roads for miles to go to the bank,with five small keikis, took us all day to get there and back. Just to BEG da rich people for money to buy kau kau.(She stands there for a few moments, her frail body is trembling.) We gotta wait and see what tomorrow brings. If Pele going malama this kuleana for us, or lawe aku. We don't know yet, still get time, could go either way.  Wait a minute. (Ma looks around to the side of the house.) You know Nani, the most precious thing to me is something we can take with us from this 'aina, we can keep it alive and growing. Let's  take some plants from the lehua taro patch. That patch has been here since before I could walk on this land. I can't take it all, gotta leave some behind, as offerings, but gotta do my part in preserving what the kupuna folks valued the most. The taro gotta keep us alive, connected to this 'aina, that connection, da pili, we gotta keep from Old Hawai'i. Our people from Old Hawai'i, ka wa kahiko, they had the connection we'll never understand.This taro patch brought good health to our 'ohana,—- fed us when we had nothing to eat, ——when no more fish, no more hardly any rain, no more even coconut milk to drink. I remember those times. The taro kept us going, kept us strong, kept us ikaika, you gotta remember that word. (Kaika faces the audiences and smiles proudly.)

NANI- But Ma, no more time dig up taro plants, (speaking gently but firmly) we just gotta pack what we get in da house, da valuables, da pepas.

MA-You know, you young generation, you guys coming "nele" to our life, our ways, what we struggled to learn, what we struggled to keep. All the sacrifices, yeah, the sacrifices.(Tears slowly but steadily begin to stream down her hollow cheeks, her voice quivers, she begins to look more like a fragile bird. )Get plenty kapu kapu places around here, not even supposed to walk a certain way around them. The kupuna folks, knew these places like they had one map inside them, they could tell by the feeling, stay out, no go that way, look up at the sky before you go fishing, swimming, pig hunting.Yeah, they heard voices inside the kino, the body,talking to them, telling them everything.We all going come so ignorant, so na'aupo. (She looks up at the sky) Why Pele like  lawe aku this land our 'ohana worked so hard to keep? This land, this 'aina is like our own public library. We don't all read and write like the schoolteachers they brought in from the mainland who came to teach us how to speak and write, back when I was a keiki. But this 'aina can teach us how to survive and treasure what other people—– can't see. The 'ike. You know, you kids don't even understand our own 'olelo anymore. The kupuna folks didn't talk like this, their mana'o came out different. Nani, you not trying to understand.

NANI- Ma, I know, I understand, we get time to talk about this, but not now. If you wanna malama the lehua taro, let's do it now. Kapuna's finishing up the packing inside, we just gotta make sure we get the insurance papers. If we lose the house, at least we can get money to build one new one and replant your taro in one new patch. ( Pauses,looking around.) I better go look for Bully, before he runs away. I hope he's not dead yet, he's Kapuna's favorite hunting dog.

Suddenly, a loud, disturbing bang is heard from inside the house.

To be continued…

Talk story

  1. Hinaea says:

    I'm enjoying the way you weave 'ili'ili (also used for konane, a game of strategy often played among our chiefs that was a great way to develop skilled strategy for warfare) and lehua kalo (our connection to our land and ancestors through Haloa, the progenitor of all Hawaiian people, and of course how the particular color of this kalo bleeds red like blood, symbolizing both people and sacrifices made, such as Ma's grandfather who sold the jalopy to keep the land for his mo'opuna).


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