When the Clock Strikes Lahaina Noon
He speed hiked up the hill behind his Auntie’s house, trying to get to the top before Lahaina Noon began. After the conversation with his Auntie, he did a little research on the solar phenomenon. He didn’t want to ask her and risk seeming interested, so he researched what time Lahaina Noon was expected to happen on this part of the island, and how long it may last, though no amount of research could fully disclose what to expect as your own shadow disappears under a cloudless sky.
A few days before, he sat with his Auntie over breakfast. He, in his mid-teens, was dressed head to toe in dark skater gear; she, in her mid-fifties, was wearing a simple green flower print dress. He had been in Hawaii for about a week, in order to reconnect with his Hawaiian roots, as his parents back in Chicago had insisted as they ushered him onto the plane.
“So, are you looking forward to Lahaina Noon?” she asked as she took a bite of spam musubi.
He raised an eyebrow at that, lost for thought over what she could be possibly talking about.
“Lahaina what now?” he asked.
“Auwe!” she expressed in surprise. “Lahaina Noon? Honestly, how can you call yourself kanaka if you never heard of Lahaina Noon? Too much mainland on the brain, I tell you!”
He shrugged, unfazed by his lack of knowledge. He hadn’t been to the islands in years.
His Auntie shook her head in dismay before going on to explain: “Lahaina Noon is a solar phenomenon that happens on the first day of summer, where the sun is at a position where no shadows are cast.”
He remained unfazed, finding no excitement in the phenomenon. “So?”
His Auntie became even more stunned. “‘So?’ You lolo! How can you not be amazed by that? When Lahaina Noon comes, the shadow crawls into your body and gives you extra mana.”
He rolled his eyes out of impatience. “Translation please?”
She smacked her nephew on the side of the head, in attempt to stop him from being even more lolo. The plate of spam musubis they shared between them nearly toppled off the table.
“You best learn choke of Pidgin and Hawaiian by summer’s end!” she warned him. “If you knew this speak better, then you’d know mana means power. Your shadow may give you power at Lahaina Noon, but only if you believe.”
His face softened, but only just. He still couldn’t quite accept the pupule his Auntie was talking.
“Do others believe it?” he challenged.
Now it was his Auntie’s turn to do the single eyebrow raising.
“Of course!” she answered him, like it was the most obvious answer in the world. “It’s like duck soup to believe. Hawaii stay the only place in the U.S. where Lahaina Noon happens, which is part of what makes it so easy to accept.”
“What’s the other part?”
She smiled to herself as she took another bite of her spam musubi.
“Well, when a place like Hawaii has a history of aina that’s felt by many, despite the history it went through… well, duck soup. When the haoles came to take over, did they really think they could rid our culture like that? No, for they were pupule for thinking they could. A strong aina is infinite aina, that can withstand anything… and so it shows even today.
“In the end, the aina stay strong, and that’s why belief comes easy. Aloha remains.”
His stubbornness dropped and cockiness fled, as realization settled in somewhere in the forefront of his mind. He realized his Auntie made a point. For an island that was once on its own before colonization hit, it’s a near miracle aloha remains alive and well today. That was something he never gave much thought, and in a way he felt guilty for, especially given his familial ties.
Without making it obvious, he was left more intrigued now by this impending phenomenon than before. But he just couldn’t let his Auntie have that kind of satisfaction. And yet curiosity arose out of his interest. Was it really that easy to believe in this mana from something as simple as his shadow, that’s constantly tailing him on a regular day, especially in as sunny of a place as Hawaii?
“So say if I were to experience Lahaina Noon,” he brought up casually, “where’s the best place to experience it?”
“Well, some prefer makai, towards the ocean,” she responded. “Others prefer mauka, towards the mountain. I’m more for mauka, in order to be closer to the sun. However, with my joints not as good as before, I’m going to stay makai this time around. But you know, you probably stay indoors that day, right? It’s not like you have any interest.”
His Auntie made no effort in hiding the fact that she knew he was going to go experience it for himself. There was no point in playing it cool anymore, yet he weakly chose to do so anyway.
“Right,” he said quietly. “Probably just kick it here that day.”
No other words were exchanged for the remainder of breakfast as the spam musubis were eaten by the two.
The day of Lahaina Noon, he made no effort to sneak out of the house the hour before as he noisily clobbered down the stairs and to the front door, as his Auntie was up in her room, getting ready to head to the beach.
“Lahaina Noon?” his Auntie called from her bedroom knowingly.
“Lahaina Noon,” he responded. He then made a swift exit.
He just made it close to the top of the hill as the sun entered Lahaina Noon. Looking all around him, at nearby trees and plants, he noticed the very naked appearance of shadows absent from sight. He quickly looked down on the ground at his feet, where his shadow normally was, only to find it completely gone.
The solar phenomenon was in full effect as he looked from the ground, to the sky, though narrowly avoiding the sun’s light from piercing into his own eyes. Suddenly, as swiftly as an ocean wave, something came over him; a kind of strong calmness. He couldn’t quite put his finger on it, so instead he closed his eyes, shielding off the world and focusing on what could be his shadow stirring inside him.
Then there was the absence of ground. His feet, which firmly stood on planet earth, were suddenly without something to stand on. He felt the air change in temperature and a breeze pass on through, while the sun became slightly warmer bit by bit.
He didn’t need to open his eyes for him to draw the conclusion that he was floating in midair. He didn’t need to peak his eyes open to see for himself, for some things are better experienced than seen. It was the mana surging through him, as the sun continued to bathe the earth in shadow-less light.
To believe in mana brought about by Lahaina Noon was like duck soup; just as his Auntie said. It was so easy to believe when he dropped all doubt, and allow room for belief for something greater than himself to come through. He never felt closer with his Hawaiian heritage than in that moment; one that he knew he would never forget.
Lauren Lola is a writer from the San Francisco Bay Area. She graduated from California State University, East Bay where she earned her B.A. in Communication and a minor in Theatre. She has had writing featured on Hapa Voice, Entropy Magazine, Multiracial Media, YOMYOMF, VerseWrights, and in zines published by the Oakland Asian Cultural Center. Lauren also regularly blogs for the entertainment non-profit organization, Kollaboration, and for The Wind-Up Books Chronicle. She released her debut novel, “A Moment’s Worth,” in 2014, and will release her second novel later this year.
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