This is da room dat nevah change. So many years gone by, but we keep em da way it was. Wen Tutu lived in it. I nevah met her. But I know her, I tink I know her. Sometimes, I even tink she stay inside da closet, moving around in her muʻumuʻus. I smell da perfume she used to wear. I hear coins jingling in her worn coin purse. Worn, because she gave so generously to her moʻopuna. Coins, candy, gum, whatevah she had in her bag, she would give. Dis is da story dey told about tutu.
Da colors of her muʻumuʻus nevah fade. Funny kine yeah? Bright colors too! Lotta reds. Like Pele red, bright like fiyah. Bright like red hibiscus, da big ones dat tutus like wear wen dey go shop downtown. And da kine tings dey wen print on da fabric, not like today. Looks like “territorial Hawaii” stuff on da fabric, airplanes, da Royal Hawaiian Hotel, Waikiki Beach.
Sometimes, when da grownups got too busy to keep an eye on us kids, we would play “hide and seek” inside da closet. I used to forget to come out and would hang out in da closet long enough to nose around in da shelves. Had plenny tings stuffed inside. I found old Hawaiian dolls in mu’umu’us, old needlework baskets and way in da back of one shelf, I found one old Kamaka pineapple ʻukulele. No one in da family could play ʻukulele during small kid time. So I nevah learn.
What did she play? Did she sing? She must have taken it on trips, I see old cruise ship stickers pasted on da case. Back in da day, when you didn’t travel without your ʻukulele. I remembah hearing people strum in airports, sitting in da car in a parking lot, at da beach.
Tutu’s muʻumuʻu closet is always a journey back in time, a bridge between us.