My friend Haumana posted a photo on da Lanai at Alohaworld and challenged all of us to write a story about it. So you know me, yeah? Gotta write a story! I got Haumana’s permission to post the photo along with the story; most of it is true. I just took a couple of liberties with the locations.
Nā Lima ‘Ekolu
Now lined with time and age, Tūtū’s hands carefully held onto her cane as she walked slowly up the path. It wasn’t so long ago that these same hands, unlined and flitting quick as forest birds, parted the grasses as Tūtū and the rest of her childhood friends ran up the muddy trail near Haena. All the keiki laughed and called to one another among the guava trees, carefree and happy. From mauka to makai, this was the land of Tūtū’s people, the land where they hunted and fished and made lives for themselves here on this island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
Not too far away was a heiau; it was a sacred place, near where in legend Hi‘iakaikapoliopele met Lohi‘auipo, and the keiki knew better than to go there. Time and time again Tūtū’s own mother had warned them to stay away, and this command they obeyed.
Then Tūtū’s older yet still unlined hands learned to prepare food in the old Hawaiian ways, poi, fish, and breadfruit, and they learned how to weave lauhala mats and pound kapa. They felt warm and comforted in the much larger hands of her beloved, and before long, they comforted and caressed the newborn face of Kaikamahine, whose pudgy baby hands often reached for Tūtū’s smiling face in her new home of Anahola.
As Kaikamahine grew, Tūtū’s hands showed her how to do the same things that Tūtū herself had done as a child, and Kaikamahine’s hands parted the grasses, picked guava, and played in the streams and waterfalls just as Tūtū herself had done so many years before. But soon the lines of age began to show on Tūtū’s hands; she looked in the mirror and sometimes wished that she could once again be a keiki again, hunting for guava in the lush green forests of her youth.
Kaikamahine also learned the ways of her people; frequently her hands and Tūtū’s hands worked together tending to the needs of their ‘ohana. Talking quietly as they worked, the bond between them grew, and Tūtū marveled at the young woman Kaikamahine was becoming. Kaikamahine’s learned hula and the ancient chants and mele, and Tūtū’s eyes glowed with pleasure watching her daughter dance, Kaikamahine’s hands telling stories of long ago times.
Before long, Kaikamahine had grown up, and with yet unlined hands of her own began to seek out color and fabric; she taught herself how to sew exquisite quilts, wall hangings, and pillows out of the colorful cottons she found. With loving hands, she fashioned a mu‘umu‘u for Tūtū. She too found safety in the hands of her beloved, and soon she caressed and comforted Mo‘opuna, a small keiki of her own in her home in Lihue. Always busy, Kaikamahine’s hands cooked and cleaned, sewed when she had time, and blessed people with the work of her hands. One of the highlights of her life was the huaka‘i she made with her hālau to see the sacred heiau where Hi‘iakaikapoliopele met Lohi‘auipo, near the place where Tūtū and those before her had roamed.
Mo‘opuna was tall and lovely like Kaikamahine, but her world was far different than that of Tūtū. Although Mo‘opuna sometimes played in the same streams and waterfalls that Tūtū and Kaikamahine had played in, and although her unlined hands picked guava from the same trees, modernization had come to the island in the middle of the Pacific, and many of the ways of Tūtū’s people were becoming lost. Mo‘opuna grew up with television and cars and movie theaters; she did not need to know how to pound kapa or preserve fish. Instead, her unlined hands held a telephone or schoolbooks. She was a good daughter and helped Kaikamahine around the house, learning to cook and clean just as Kaikamahine had learned to do, and becoming a giving wahine, full of aloha, just like her makuahine and tūtū.
Now it was Kaikamahine who looked at her hands and wondered where the time had gone, wondered if she was still the same keiki whose hands had picked guava up in the nahele or her island home. As for Tūtū, she looked at her hands and saw the hands of an old woman, full of lines and wrinkles, looking nothing like the hands of the young girl she sometimes caught a glimpse of when she looked in the mirror.
Wearing the mu‘umu‘u that Kaikamahine had sewed for her so many years ago, Tūtū smiled as she walked up the steps to Kaikamahine’s hale. Her weariness melted away and her heart was full when she saw the beloved faces of Kaikamahine and Mo‘opuna. The three women, whose lives spanned three generations, looked with much aloha on one another. Tūtū leaned heavily on her cane as they all held out their hands to each other. Mo‘opuna’s young, unlined hands displayed a whimsical nature with fancy fingernail painting on her thumb. Kaikamahine’s hand was in the middle, the connection between young and old, Tūtū’s blood flowing from one generation to the next. Tūtū’s hand, heavily wrinkled with age, was perhaps the most beautiful; it spanned the years that Kaikamahine’s and Mo‘opuna’s hands had yet to reach.
Nä Lima ‘Ekolu. Three hands. Beautiful each one, holding memories from past to present, each one part of a long line of keiki who used to play in the nahele of Kaua‘i, who scampered through the tall grass picking guava, and who swam in the pools beneath ka wailele, blessed to be born in the land of Hi‘iakaikapoliopele.
*** Alla stuffs hea on my blog stay copyrighted. Dat means photos, words, typos, hamajangs of any kine. If u kakaroach [steal] um, den I going hunt you down and give you da giant slippah and whack u wit um until u promise u nevah going do dat again. And eh! I whack hard and I get plenny menehunes can track u down. Copyright © 2009. The content on this blog is the sole property of the author. Dat would be ME! ***
A beautiful story. And the hands are lovely.
I like your copyright warning, too. Da giant slippah of da Universe will prevail!
How beautiful the story of na hana lima. And how beautiful the words from your hana lima. Thank you.
It brought sweet tears to me.
I can never have a daughter, but I am a very good Godmother. (and Auntie)