It is 3:42 a.m. and Kalei and Cristoforo are sleeping. I am sitting on the B&B terrace beneath a waning moon. Last night, if I remember correctly, Kalei told me it was the Hoku moon. She taught me how to tell if a moon is waning or waxing. As I sit beneath the terrace awning which is composed of two triangular sail clothes (I am sure there is a terminology for such things, but I am unaware of the correct word, but I do know it is peʻa in Hawaiian), I wonder if the many Hawaiians, past and present, who came to Rome sat like me staring up at the sky and thought about home.
Rome is almost never silent, but it is now. My thoughts are flowing quietly in the night much like the Tiber river upon whose banks Rome was founded. The Tiber is the third largest in Italy. It’s tranquil surface belies the complicated currents which characterize it. Romulus and Remo were thought to have been deposited in the Tiber by their mother Rhea Silvia who was a vestal virgin impregnated by the god Mars as she slept. Rhea Silvia was the daughter of Numitor Silvia. When Numitor’s brother Amulius deposed him, Amulius forced Rhea Silivia to become a vestal virgin. Vestal virgins must remain chaste for the entire duration of their service. I remember reading somewhere that at around 40 years old they were free to leave service. Breaking the vow of chastity was punishable by death. Rhea Silvia deposited her twins in a reed basket and set them afloat in the Tiber. The god of the river, Tiberinus watched over them and sent a she-wolf who took the basket in her mouth and brought the infant twins to her cave where she nursed them until a farmer discovered them and took them away to raise them. Romulus went on to found Rome, which takes its name from him.
Kalei was telling me that the Hawaiian students of Lahaina Luna learned Latin, Italian, French, and English. She also mentioned that some of the stories which were printed in the 19th-century Hawaiian-language newspapers were translated into Hawaiian directly from Italian and French by these students. Last night I was keeping my son company while he did his homework. He studies Latin, Spanish, English, and French because he attends a high school called Classico Linguistico. Italian high schools fall into different categories. The one my son has chosen to attend concentrates on language studies. Kalei is also rapidly picking up Italian. People turn and stare when they hear Kalei and I conversing in Hawaiian. They often ask what language we are speaking. I switch from English and Hawaiian with Kalei, to Italian and English with my son. Our multilingual group gets a lot of attention. I wonder if those Hawaiians who came to Italy in the 19th century missed speaking their mother tongue? Perhaps one day I will research the Italian archives for more knowledge on our ancestors who made this country their home. Kalei was also telling me that museums around the world have many Hawaiian artifacts. This made me curious as to whether there are such things here in Rome. I have visited many museums here, but never noticed any exhibits showcasing Hawaiian artifacts. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Perhaps there is something packed away or gathering dust somewhere.
I want to know. I want to bring them home. I don’t even know if this is feasible. For now it is just a thought. A thought brought about by staring up at a beautiful moon and musing about how the moon is the same familiar entity where ever I go.
Me ke aloha,