Dita Basu - <!-- -->Ohia Lehua Flower and my Wish

Ohia Lehua Flower and my Wish

Ohia Lehua Flower and My Wish

Ohia Lehua is one of the most iconic tree, endemic to Hawaii and is steep d in its culture.

The flowers are dainty and soft, usually of scarlet hue, though they could be other colors also, with soft bristles and lime-green pods.

Legend goes that once there was a very handsome, noble warrior named Ohia. He was so good looking that he charmed the fire goddess Pele.

When Pele asked for his hands and the ravishing warrior knelt down at her feet, she didn’t know what surprise was waiting for her.

“My heart is given already, your Highness.” He said, lowering his gaze to the ground.

“I am sorry.” He folded his hands to a prayer gesture, his broad shoulders glistening in the sun.

“What?” glared the goddess, couldn’t believe her ears. She crossed her brows, insulted, shocked at the audacity of the man.

Lehua, his soul mate, came running, her arms stretched out .

“For this plain girl?” The goddess flared her nostrils. Fire came out of them. She looked at the lovers with such anger, such disgust that they turned into scorched, burnt figures dropping into ash.

It shocked and bewildered the gods and goddesses. They were charmed by the made-for-each-other couple, Ohia Lehua and they couldn’t hold their emotion and sadness. Tears rained on earth. And those tears blessed Ohia Lehua to bloom together amid the lava rocks. Where lava flows these flowers grow. They bloomed together and could never be separated.

Ohia Lehua flowers look dainty, but don’t you underestimate their strength and perseverance. They are the first plants to colonize the dry, obsidian lava rock habitats. The trees could be as tall as one hundred feet and they could be as old as almost one thousand years.They are the keystone species of the Hawaiian rainforest mountaintops. It has superior capacity for extending its root system deep into the lava rock crevices.

I was fascinated by all that I learned about this flower, Ohio Lehua and wished to see it in Hawaii, Big Island. It was one of the two wishes I had on my bucket list. The other one was to see a bird named Iiwi

On the very first morning I was greeted by a call, ‘Di…dun!’ My grandkids call me Didun. But this time it was a birdie. And oh my God, it was that scarlet bird with a bent beak, the Iiwi bird.

Ohia Lehua? Did I see it? No. I think I did for a split second while driving, but I am not sure.

But I can see it in my mind’s eye. It taught me something about life. You don’t get all your bucket lists checked out. It’s not so cheap.

My father had a wish to see the night sky of the Southern Hemisphere, those stars. He didn’t. But I did and felt that his wish was fulfilled by my viewing.

My daughter, Nina was in tears yesterday that she couldn’t show me the Ohia Lehua flower.

“Silly girl,” I wiped her tears, “it’s okay. My wish will be granted if you see it, or one of my grandkids or someone who love me and care.”

By the way, please don’t pluck an Ohio Lehua flower. Scientists say, the open spores could spread diseases, which happened before. Legend says the gods and goddesses would cry and it would rain.That’s what the Hawaiians believe.

On my very last day, at sun-down time the sky was filled with strange striated cirrus clouds painted with vermilion strokes The twilight hour faded fast, temperature dropped with a cool breeze and the drama of the almost full moon is ready to dominate the stage. Nina and I were walking fast from the swimming pool to our temporary home. I heard, ‘Di..dun, Di..dun.’ That Iiwi bird chirping from somewhere close by.

“Goodbye, my Iiwi birdie.” My heart was filled with gratitude.