The day was bright; the sky was full of vog washing the sky gray. The air smelled thick and had a sense of foreboding to it. Birds were unusually absent and there wasn’t a wisp of wind. Towering Palm trees stood like sentinels watching over the sparse landscape, protecting it, holding it against the ferocious winds that can whip across the land at times. The sea glistened a brilliant turquoise contrasting against the gray sky.
I found myself walking down a rock path towards a village. As I walked along the sky began to darken ahead of me. Nearing the village I came upon an old woman sitting along the side of the road. She was bent and decrepit with stringy white hair. Wearing dirty rags, she looked like a beggar. There was something about her that gave me chills up the back of my neck. When I got closer she looked up at me asked for a drink and a cigarette. Her eyes were the color of coal. I told her I didn’t have anything on me, but that if she accompanied me to the near village that we could get her some water and probably find her a cigarette. She thanked me, I helped her up, she put her arm in mine we began a slow walk to the village.
Nearing the village we began encountering people. The old woman asked each one she passed for a drink and a cigarette. She was met with derisive comments, pushed aside and laughed at. Each time she put her head down and muttered something under her breath. Then she’d turn back to me, take my arm and we’d continue on towards the village.
Once inside the village we headed towards the well in the center of the square. The farther into the village we went the more villagers stared, laughed and made rude comments towards the old woman. I felt angry and embarrassed for her. Once I tried to protect her. She reached out, took hold of my arm and told me to keep my voice, that soon she would have her day. When we reached the well, I got a drink of water for her first. As soon as she drank I turned to get one for myself. As I drank a hush fell around the square. I turned and suddenly the old woman was gone and in her place was a tall beautiful woman with fire in her eyes, coal black wavy hair and a foreboding frown on her face. I knew this must be Pele. But how? What happened to the old woman? She looked down at me, smiled, and touched my cheek knowing my wonder. Then she turned towards the villagers and her voice sounded like thunder, “You ignored me and laughed at me. For that you will be pay” The villagers suddenly realizing that she was Pele the goddess of Fire rushed forward to kneel and beg forgiveness.
Ignoring them she turned back to me and said, “Leave here quickly and never look back. There is a rocky knoll a short distance down the trail from here. Go there and wait. You will be safe there. DO NOT look back to this village as you leave or you will suffer the same as they do.” With that she vanished.
The people in the square began crying and wailing in panic, suddenly they were running everywhere, trying to flee before Pele took her revenge. I left quickly. As I was leaving a loud rumbling began behind me, It grew louder and the ground began to shake violently. It sounded like thousands of freight trains rumbling towards me. I wanted to turn and look, but remembered her warning and began to run. I could feel intense heat behind me and knew Pele was exacting her revenge with fire. I saw the rocky knoll and headed for it. As soon I reached the knoll, lava suddenly was all around me. I started to cry afraid I would be dead within seconds. I raised my arms, closed my eyes and pleaded to Pele to spare my life. Suddenly I was calm, I felt protected and knew I was safe and would live to see the sunset that day. I don’t know how long I stood with my arms outstretched.
When I opened my eyes, I looked around and found I was alone in a sea of black lava. Everything was gone, the village, the people, trees, there was no sign of any life around me. Everything was wiped clean. It had become deathly quiet. Life had ceased to exist on this small spot of the world. Not even the wind dared raise his voice to the anger of Pele. The sun began to set and the sky became a glowing orange-red. Watching the day end I was suddenly at peace. Something amazing had happened and somehow I was a part of it.
I watched the sun turn to cinders as it slipped over the horizon. I lost track of time and lay down to rest. I must have slept because suddenly I felt something wet and cold across my face. I opened my eyes, wiped my hand across my wet face and looked up at a huge black dog standing over me. Around his neck was a golden flask. He licked me again as I sat up. The eyes of this dog were sea green and sparkled with flecks of gold that glinted in the light. It was as though you could fall into the depths of his eyes when you looked deep enough. This was the largest dog I’d ever seen, towering over me by feet. When I got up he nudged me and rubbed his neck against me. I untied the flask, opened it and smelled the contents. A sweet fragrance came to my nose. I knew it was safe. When I began to drink a voice came to me. “For your generosity and kindness I repay you with my drink. I have spared you and sent my devoted dog to aid you in your journey home. He is faithful and will lead you to safety. Heed him well for he is my favorite. Thank you for all you’ve done and will do. You are in my favor” I drained the flask and felt refreshed. As I looked at the dog his eyes began to glow and he looked towards the horizon where the sun had set. I suddenly knew how to get home.
I stepped from the knoll to walk in the direction he had gazed. When I turned to see if he was following me he was gone. I was alone once again, but I knew where I needed to be. As I started on my journey home the horizon started to glow purple from dawn approaching.
I rolled over and woke up. I was sweating and my hair was matted against the back of my neck. Whew! What a dream!!!
Later that day I discussed this dream with Auntie Dalina. She hugged me long and smiled. “You have been blessed Pua, use it for the lesson it is and remember, You are now Hawaii’s child”.
Pua Lilia DuFour