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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Pohukaina...



On my walk home, I passed by 'Iolani Palace, and looked in upon the ahu which was desecrated recently. It looked fine. Just as I was about to turn back on my journey, I peripherally saw a man pacing along the black iron fence which marks the sacred burial area of Pohukaina. He slowly walked along the side, running his hands along the top of the fence. Something told me to stay and watch. I really was in a hurry to get home to take my son, Elliott, back to Kamehameha Schools for hula practice, as I was already running late and had a long way to walk still. My na'au, my visceral intuition, said to stay. 

I stood there fixated on this individual from a distance as people passed me by, wondering if I had frozen in a catatonic state. I watched this individual for about five minutes, until I saw him pick up a dead branch off of the ground, break it into pieces, and individually toss them inside of the gated area and on top of the burial mound. That is when I began walking along the fence, to enter the palace grounds. My adrenalin was already rushing. I was thinking about whether in confronting the man, the situation would devolve into a physical confrontation, and whether I was ready to defend myself, if necessary, from an attack, with a rock, knife, or whatever. 

I watched him intently as he made his way to the King Street side of the mound, then I saw him go to the corner, and hop the fence into the burial mound. Another man lay under a coconut tree, watching intently too. Once I passed through the gates of 'Iolani Palace, I made a beeline to the enclosure. The man who was laying under the coconut tree, watching the scene from a distance, quickly stood up, grabbed his blankets and bags, and bolted out of there. As he passed me, he shook his head back and forth in disapproval, and quickly walked off. I believe he sensed trouble was coming his way. 

I came upon the first man, now digging around under the thick ti-leaves on the mauka side of the enclosure, and exclaimed, "Brah, what you doing?" He kept his head down and mumbled incoherently, as he grabbed a brick from the bushes and quickly made his way back to the makai side and hopped the fence. I quickly made my way to the other side, where I asked the man what he was doing again. He didn't make eye contact, and I was preparing myself to get hit with the brick. He started hitting the brick, breaking it up, trying to fit it into a small space where another brick had fallen out. I snapped a picture of him, fully expecting him to launch on me. I was thinking I would hit him in the head with my heavy camera body if he attacked me with the brick. His speech and mannerisms led me to believe he had some form of mental illness. I braced myself for some type of explosion of violence.

Just then, I saw a Hawaiian standing at the mauka gate. I walked over and shook my head in disbelief. I thought to myself, if things turn ugly, at least I have back-up. His name was Analu. He said, "Ho brah, I like flatten this guy...but no can anymore. That's jail." I said, "I know the feeling...but no can..."

Not knowing DLNR's DOCARE's hotline, I called 911 and reported someone in the burial mound. The guy then walked quickly to his bag and towel under a coconut tree, and started gathering his stuff. Analu said, "The guy get kiapolo. No mess with dis place. The power getting to him already."

Thinking how I could detain the guy until HPD arrived, I suddenly saw 'Iolani Palace security race up in their cart as they confronted the man, still packing up his belongings. I went to the security, and was glad to see one of them was Haema Kalu. I filled them in with what I had witnessed. Haema was interrogating the guy, scolding him, when we saw HPD pull off of King Street with their blue light on. I was a little worried Haema was going to pound the guy, but he did a great job of restraint, while remaining stern.

The HPD officer turned out to be Hawaiian. He spoke with Haema, then me and Analu. I explained what I witnessed and possible violations. The homeless man kept trying to explain that he was just trying to fix the wall, and the officer told him not to talk. After we all spoke, we let the man speak. It turns out he is from California and living homeless in Hawai'i now. He has no local address. 

The officer gave him a good scolding and history lesson on the sacredness of Pohukaina. He told him that in the old days, he would be dead already. The homeless man kept apologizing profusely, almost to the point of tears at one point. I really wanted to tell him that some of the ali'i buried under the ground where we stood, would have had his arms and legs broken, his eyes scooped out, and left him there on the mound for a few days until they were ready to dispatch him. That is how things were done during their time. No excuses. 

The man kept apologizing and insisting he just wanted to fix up the brick wall around the mound, where the bricks fell out.

We discussed the options of arresting him, citing him, warning him and all the options. I couldn't help but feel our Beloved Queen watching this scene full of Hawaiians, on our most sacred wahi kapu, surrounding and detaining this haole man, a man who looked worn out, beat up, and exhibiting signs of mental illness. I could feel her Love for us, her love for him, her Grace, her Forgiveness, her Aloha pau'ole. My anger subsided quickly after that. 

I know it is easy to let rage loose. It is easy to hit. To punch. To smash. To injure. To kill. To Hate. It is much harder to restrain. To seek calm. To reflect. To seek Peace. To Forgive. To Love. I have a boxer's fracture in my right hand where the bone sticks up. It often aches. An eternal reminder to me about violence and the propensity to punch hard immovable objects in a fit of rage. These were the thoughts which gently billowed down from the second floor balcony of the Palace and blanketed the scene at Pohukaina as the Sun began its slow descent. 

The officer made the man apologize to all for what he did, then gave him a trespassing citation which bans him from coming back to 'Iolani Palace grounds. He then took the man back to his police car where he lectured him some more in the distance. Analu and I knew the officer, from his animated gesturing and pointing at us, was most likely telling him how lucky he was to just be banned from the Palace grounds.

Analu shared with me how he and others used to sleep near the mound and take care of it a long time ago. I thanked him for his Aloha. He talked about the cave under the mound. I mentioned that many people believe that the cave extends under where the ahu was built, and under the street towards Lunalilo's Tomb at Kawaiaha'o. As soon as I said those words, we both lit up with intense chicken skin. Always a sign from my Spirit Guides that what I just said is true, and of great importance as a Life Lesson.

We parted ways with honi and hugs. Analu and I agreed that the kūpuna will probably pay the man a visit tonight. To hopefully reinforce his Life lesson. I left the Palace and headed back down King Street. I saw our homeless man quickly walking to the street corner. As I approached, he saw me coming from a distance, and quickly changed course and ran across the street, almost getting hit by a City Bus as it pulled away from the bus stop, because he wasn't paying attention to oncoming traffic. My heart stopped momentarily as I watched what I thought was going to be a horrific scene. I actually said a little prayer for the man, for Ke Akua to teach him his lesson, without harm or more importantly forfeiting anyone's life. His prognosis wasn't looking too good.

I hurriedly looked at the time, and realized that there was no way I was going to make it home in time to get my son to his important hula practice. What a big disappointment. He is learning many new hula for the Kamehameha Schools Song Contest hō'ike which he tried out for, and was fortunately selected. I felt sad, but I didn't have regrets for taking the time to tend to Pohukaina like my na'au told me. I started walking as fast as I could, because I still had hope, despite the impossibility of covering about two-miles in ten minutes, as an eternal optimist.

Just then, traffic stopped, and I heard someone yell, "Kai!"  I looked, and the car that stopped in traffic right next to me, was my long lost friend John. I haven't seen him in years. He was the drummer for our band. We excitedly exchanged greetings and amazement, and he said the unexpected words I secretly longed to hear deep down in my Soul. "Do you need a ride?"

Where I normally refuse any and all offers of vehicular assistance whenever I am walking to, or from, work or home, I gladly accepted. I jumped in his car and we had the most wonderful reconnection, recollection and joyful conversation, as he got me to my home in time to take my son to his hula practice, on time too. The Blessings of this World, the Love of our Sacred Ancestors, our Beloved kupuna, and our Beloved Queen, show themselves in amazingly large and small ways. Mahalo Ke Akua...

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