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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, January 22, 2006

Let sleeping black cats lie ... just to be sure

By Ka'ohua Lucas

The heavens were washed in black with tiny, shimmering flecks dotting the night sky.

I made my way to our car and slipped into the driver's seat.

"Where's Uncle?" asked my nephew.

"He'll be here in a minute," my 11-year-old said with a yawn.

Across the cul-de-sac, a cat the color of the night sky languidly stretched and began its journey toward a neighboring home.

"Uh, oh," I said. "A black cat ... I can imagine what Uncle will do if he sees it."

The night was still, with the exception of a passing car or two. I heard the front door of the house slam shut.

My husband shuffled to the car. Without warning, I heard a loud hiss.

Out of the corner of my eye, a pair of arms furiously pumped the air.

"Go on, get out of here!" my husband shouted.

"What is Uncle doing?" my nephew asked.

"Oh, he's superstitious," I said, then yawned myself. "He doesn't want the black cat to cross our path."

We watched the scene before us unfold.

My husband rushed into the middle of the road, flailing his arms and legs. It was as if his body was manipulated by a puppeteer. His torso remained upright while his limbs performed quick, jerky movements.

"Arrrgggh!" he shouted at the cat.

The cat stopped in the middle of the road and watched intently as my husband skittered toward it.

The glow from a lone street lamp illuminated the cat's eyes, which showed confusion and fear.

"Go on, get out of here!" my husband yelled.

Uncertain of its future, the cat turned and scampered away.

According to Mary Kawena Pukui in "Nana I Ke Kumu," there were signs or ho'ailona that were always a part of Hawaiian life.

For example, if a kahuna or medical doctor on his way to treat a patient saw a man with his hands crossed behind his back, he would cancel his visit.

The ho'ailona was a sign that the patient could not be cured.

Pukui also writes that when Queen Emma was taking a trip to Puna, she saw a strange, moving light far out at sea. She insisted on returning home.

When she returned, she discovered that her sister-in-law, Princess Ruth, had died.

My husband insists that he is an unbeliever when it comes to signs or omens.

"Many of us living in the 21st century do not have time to be superstitious," he remarked. "But one can never be too careful."

Reach Ka'ohua Lucas at Family Matters, 'Ohana section, The Advertiser, P.O. Box 3110, Hono- lulu, HI 96802; fax 525-8055; or at ohana@honoluluadvertiser .com.