From “Bananaheart and Other Short Stories”
Published with Permission
My mother enjoys telling my young daughters scary stories about the plantation days. The girls always ask to hear about the Coffin Lady. Mama sits down by the kitchen table, her face busy thinking. Her childhood and O-Baban, her own mother, are ready to be called back. Mama pours us our sodas, passing out mochi-crunch or candy. Then she wipes her glasses, she has cataracts now, and clears her throat.
A long time ago, when O-Baban was still new in the camp, she used to be the midwife for Union Mill Camp, outside of Kapa‘au town. O-Baban was young and pretty, yeah? But she had to do too much backache labor, because she was stuck with the housemaid work for Greenwoods and for the whole Sam Wells place, too. Also early in the morning she had to cook for all the single men down at Camp. Plus she had two or three kids, but I wasn’t born yet.