Tita vs. da Dragon

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Story by Kathy Collins

Listen to this column read aloud in pidgin:

Kathy Collins as Tita

Kung hee fat choy! Happy Chinese New Year! Since dis da Year a da Dragon, I wanted fo’ tell you guys one good dragon story. Only t’ing, no mo’ dragons in Hawai‘i. Da closest we get is mo‘owahine, da lizard goddess.

Back in da real olden days, what da college guys call “pre-Contack,” da Hawaiians used to see da mo‘owahine an’ odda kupua (maybe you call ‘em “shape-shiftahs”) alla time. They still yet around, but they no come out so much nowadays. I t’ink they no like deal wit’ da paparazzi, li’dat. ‘Cause you know, if those guys evah seen one wahine who can make her tongue twelve feet long an’ use ‘em fo’ one surfboard, they would be all ovah dat, like geckos on one wall.

Besides da tongue trick, da mo‘owahine can change from one gorgeous young wahine to one giant lizard, big as one dragon. They always hang around da watah—no mattah if fresh or ocean—‘cause their mos’ fav’rite t’ing fo’ do is seduce unsuspecting fisha-mens an’ swimmahs, an’ den drown ‘em when they pau (finish) play.

But dis one mo‘owahine, Pu‘uoinaina, she no was li’dat. She was happily married—so happy, in fack, she had two husbands. She no was lookin’ fo’ trouble or love, but you know how dat go. . . sometimes da two go togedda an’ they come lookin’ fo’ you. In dis case, was Lohiau, da husband of da volcano goddess an’ ultimate tita, Pele. Lohiau an’ Pele was hangin’ out at Kahikinui, out Hāna side. But Lohiau wen’ get bored, an’ he wen’ go cruise across da island, go Mā‘alaea. An’ dass where he wen’ meet Pu‘uoinaina.

Was love at firs’ sight fo’ Pu‘uoinaina. For Lohiau, was jus’ lust. An’ when Pele wen’ catch wind a dat, she wen’ tita out! Alla way from Kahikinui to Mā‘alaea, could hear her cursing da two guys. When Pu‘uoinaina wen’ hear Pele’s voice, she come so shame, she run from her house on Kaho‘olawe and jump inside da ocean fo’ hide. She nevah know da volcano goddess was awreddy on her way fo’ find her good-fo’-nottin’ husband an’ drag ‘em home.

Pele come around da south coast, she spock da giant lizard in da watah, an’ Pu‘uoinaina nevah even get chance fo’ say, “I sorry!” Pele wen’ chop her in half so hard, da tail wen’ flip up and land at Mākena, floppin’ aroun’ like one fish on da rocks. The bugga wen’ curl up an’ turn into da hill we call Pu‘u Ōla‘i now. When Pu‘uoinaina’s husbands wen’ come fo’ check out all da commotion, they seen her head floatin’ in da watah off Kaho‘olawe. While they was cryin’ an’ wailin’, da head wen’ turn to stone, right in front their eyes. They wen’ name ‘em Molokini (many ties) so dat ev’rybody would remembah their beloved wife.

Da tour-boat companies tell you da odda way around, dat Molokini is da lizard tail, I guess ‘cause da rock stay curve like one crescent moon, look like one tail. But da version I wen’ tell you is from da Memoirs of da Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum of Polynesian Et’nology an’ Natural History, an’ you no can get much mo’ official dan dat. Anyways, heads or tails, no mattah. Main t’ing fo’ remembah from dis story is no make one tita mad. Twenny-twelve might be da Year a da Dragon, but even da dragon is no match fo’ one tita!

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