Chapter 18 – Aroha and the Sea God

The next morning Molly and Will were packed and on the road again before 9.30am. The weather was fine, sunny, a scattering of high cloud danced across the horizon. The fine weather was such a relief after the constant heavy rain, typical weather for the West Coast of the South Island. Molly was very excited about visiting Punakaiki, also known as Pancake Rocks. Will had been there many years ago as a young child but he had only a vague memory of this. It was also a welcome relief driving out of Greymouth, instantly they felt the shift in energy.

Punakaiki is a popular tourist destination and already there were many tourist coaches parked in the carpark and small crowds of people crossing the road to the walkway out onto the rocks. The walkway was very well designed, being created from local stone and wood, it blended aesthetically with the natural landscape. The path wound around the edge of the cliffs and the ocean roared into the rock enclosures forming jets of spray which shot out through stone structures  resembling chimneys. The wind and water had eroded the rocks over many years into what looked like stacks of pancakes purposefully placed there. Molly thought that it felt like they were walking over a sleeping dragon who was snoring and snuffling inside of his cave below their feet. When a large wave crashed into the rock enclosures, the ground shook beneath their feet with a resounding ‘boom!’ The rumbling was like the dragon stirring beneath them in his cave. As a wave found its way up into the rock ‘chimney’ it sprayed water up into the air in powerful jets, and the sea spray blew upwards through the blow holes like the steam from his snoring and snorting, as he slumbered beneath the rocks. It was very spectacular, and one of the most magical places they had visited in the South Island. Molly’s imagination ran wild.

Driving north from Punakaiki, overlooking the Tasman Sea, Molly thought she heard the soulful sound of a woman’s lament, of a Maori woman singing sadly, grieving and crying inconsolably. Staring out the window of the car, Molly saw an image of this woman standing on the rocks, her cries blended with the sound of the crashing waves and she looked about to scream, cursing the gods of the oceans for taking her husband. A moment frozen in Time. Urgently, she tugged at Will to pull over to the side of the road and park the car. “What, what is it Molly, are you ok?” Will asked, turning off the engine.

“Shh, shh! Listen! Can you hear her?” Molly urged him to be quiet, but all that Will could hear was the rough waves crashing onto the rocks below the edge of the road and the wild wind. Then Molly saw the vision again and this time heard her story. Transfixed, she watched as the Maori woman stood alone, looking unbearably sad, as she stared longingly out over the waves. Around her was wrapped a beautiful Kakahu (cloak). Having been standing there for so many years unmoving, she almost looked like she had been carved into the rocks along the shoreline. Lost in her grief, in all weathers, she awaited the return of her husband. She would not budge until she got what she wanted and the gods of the ocean had paid their dues, that they returned to her her beloved man. Molly felt helpless, her heart ached at the sadness of this inconsolable woman.

The woman was aware of Molly being able to see her, she could feel her presence too. Her awareness of Molly stirred her curiosity causing her focus to  waiver and for the first time in years, she was silent. Molly watched on, spellbound by her beauty. The distraction had breathed a little life back into her, the wind blew her long black hair back from her tanned face as she stood proud on the cliff face. The woman bent down and picked up a woven flax kete (basket) from which inside she pulled out a heru (carved bone hair comb). Without looking at Molly, she placed it on the rock ledge beside her, pointing first to it and then to Molly. She glanced sideways at Molly, her crying had stopped. She had offered Molly a gift for her help. Molly was intrigued, ‘oh this is going to be interesting, very interesting,’ she thought, fascinated to see what may happen next. But the vision vanished and all Molly could see now, was the outline of the rocky outcrop where the woman had been standing. Had it all been her imagination, stimulated by her visit to Punakaiki? She was to find out later that night, that there was much more to it…

After dinner Molly took a shower, as she washed her hair, standing under the hot, softly running water felt so good. She needed to wash the energy of the past few days off. Rinsing the conditioner from her hair, she was startled by a pair of hands sliding around her waist. It was Will. Silently he began washing her body, enjoying the sensation of the hot soapy water, his hands slid easily over her wet skin. Caressing her breasts, he kissed down the back of her neck and across her shoulders, turning her gently. As he kissed up the front of her neck, Molly’s lips met his, and their bodies united beneath the hot running water…

Molly had been asleep for sometime when she was woken by the sound of the same lamenting cry from earlier that day whilst they were driving. She tried to go back to sleep, but the crying would not stop. Quietly she got out of bed, pulled the bathrobe around her, got her journal and pen and sat at the table, ready to listen. Remembering that she was not to do this on her own, she relaxed into meditation. Feeling herself walking up the stairs to the door of The Attic, she could hear voices inside talking. Knocking quietly, Grace invited her in. She was sitting at the table, and opposite her, with his back towards Molly, was a visitor. Together they were looking at something intently on the table. The man was big in stature, but his whole body shook as he giggled like a girl. ‘What are they doing?’ Molly thought. “Grace?” She enquired. Grace silently indicated for her to come sit with them.

“Come on in Molly and meet Maui.” Their guest looked up at her, his face warms with a huge smile. The table top has been transformed into what looked to Molly like an interactive computer screen. “We are having such fun, come and take a look at this Molly. Maui is very good at learning new things.” Grace touched the surface of the table with one finger, drawing an outline which created a picture describing her thoughts in that moment. The chief replied by drawing something with his finger and both of them burst out laughing. Captivated by what they were doing, Molly was  easily distracted from what she had originally come to The Attic for.

There was a knock at the door, and before Molly even had a chance to open it, it burst open and there standing in the doorway was the woman from the rocky cliffs. She was furious and confronted the larger man in a language Molly did not understand. On and on she raved at him, and then she started slapping him across the shoulders. He ducked the blows but was smiling mischievously. He stood up to grab her with the intention of stopping her, but instead wrapped his huge arms around her and she collapsed, exhausted, into his embrace, sobbing. He spoke to her gently and calmly, eventually she seemed more at ease and her sobbing subsided.

Grace wrote with her finger on the table top the words, ‘translation please’, and as the man and woman spoke their words were translated into English for her and Molly to understand. He was Maui, one of the gods of the sea. He had taken this woman’s husband and he needed to explain to her why. Her husband’s work was required in the Spirit World, but because of her grief, she was unable to receive the messages he had sent to her through the animals and birds who had visited her. First he sent the herons, then he sent the seagulls, then the penguins, then the seals, dolphins and finally the whales. Consumed by her grief, she was unable to see any of them and therefore unable to receive the many messages Maui had sent to console her. All she saw was the horizon where her husband had gone and where she expected him to return from.

Quietly, behind them, the door creaked open to reveal a handsome Maori man, his body filling the doorway. “Aroha…?” He whispered quietly. Unbelievably, she looked past Maui towards the familiar voice,  to see her beloved husband. After all of these years! He stepped through the door from another part of the Spirit World, to reunite with his beautiful wife Aroha. The youthfulness instantly returned to her face as she looked up at him with adoration. He smiled, wisdom and kindness in his eyes, and she nodded silently in the gaining of a deeper understanding. The three of them bow to Grace and Molly and walk slowly out the door. As the door clicked shut behind them, there is an outline of bright light shining through the crack around it, as they step into another world. They had returned Home.

The vision faded, and Molly felt her hand cramping from scribbling notes as it was unfolding. Standing up and stretching, she put the kettle on and got out the MacBook to transcribe it all whilst the story was fresh in her memory. With Will still asleep, there were little distractions.

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