“Aloha,” she cooed.
To them it would mean a limo, sun, surf, maid service, exotic food, dancers, and drinks with umbrellas. To her it meant ramen for dinner, checking homework assignments, cleaning up dog poo on the lanai, another load of laundry, and waking up to cigarette smoke coming through her bedroom window when the old man next door had to get up every morning at 2am to smoke. As the visitors stuffed their bags into the waiting car, she put lei around their sweaty necks and felt for them; so desperate for aloha even though they had no idea what it really meant.
Taking a deep breath of the soft air she adjusted her coconut bra and perfect hibiscus in her hair. An elderly woman housekeeper shuffled near with her squeaking metal cart of paper towels, toilet paper, linens, pillow flower petals, and rubbish.
“Aloha ku’uipo ,” the kapuna offered with a gentle lilt and radiant smile.
“Oh, Aloha Auntie.”
“You doin’ real good girl. Real beauty with da aloha today. You teach ‘em.”
She winked and moved on with arthritic effort and the gentle swaying of someone who had spent decades dancing hula
The next load of tourists pulled up to the curb and exploded onto the sidewalk, and with
her heart full breathed, “Aloha A’ina, welcome to Paradise.”
*Kapuna (Honored elder)
*Aloha Aina (love of the land)
Vali Hawkins Mitchell
First Published Star 82 Review, Issue 9.1, March 2021