Mahana Tetuanui

What follows is a brief excerpt from Found and Lost in Paradise, the second of the two novels that comprise the Novel Duo that is Pinctada

“That was his name?”

“Mahana Tetuanui,” I reply, the syllables flowing like the melody of a song.

“Do you remember what it means?”

“Mahana means the sun; Tetuanui means Grand God.”

“What a beautiful name … mmm … so, you were just about to tell me what Miss Bambi asked Mahana.”

“Actually, before she asked him anything, she told him that she’d been speaking to Oliana … she was the grownup in our lives at the time, Oliana was … the one we turned to when we needed … mothering, I guess you could say. I saw you looking at her picture down in the library last night …”

“And I asked who she was, and you said, ‘she’s someone from my days in Polynesia.’”

“I did.”

“Sounds like she was more than just someone you knew in passing.”

“She was.”

“So anyway, you were about to tell me what Miss Bambi said to Mahana.”

“That Oliana had referred to him … to Mahana … as a mahu.”

“A mahu?”

“Mm hmm … and then Bambi asked what that meant to him … you know, mahu … so, he begins telling us … reluctantly, at first, but I guess when it became clear to him that we weren’t going to be throwing him overboard …”

“Very funny.”

“I’m glad you think so,” I scoff and continue, “we learned a lot from him … after we decided not to throw him to the sharks …”

She smirks and asks, “Like what?”

“Well, according to him, before the Europeans came …”

“To Polynesia …”

“Mm hmm … mahu were teachers of dance and chants, kept track of genealogies, and generally kept traditions alive. Mahu wasn’t a derisive name, at least according to him, but a name … a role … that he claimed was once revered, and I remember him telling us the word means something like ‘being in the middle.’”

“In the middle,” she repeats.

“To Polynesians … at least back in the day … a mahu was considered a man-woman … a person ‘in the middle’ of the two. Mahana never questioned or regretted the fact that he had the body of a man, but he accepted the reality that he looked at life through the eyes … the mind … of a woman, and while some mahu dressed like women, Mahana didn’t.”

“So, he wasn’t gay or transgender?”

“It’s not that simple. He was … well … I like to remember him as this very devoted, very loving and kind woman who seemed to be contented with occupying the body of a man.”

—En Mer and Found and Lost in Paradise are two separate novels that are intended to be read as one, and as such, they comprise Pinctada, which can be purchased as a Kindle book or as a trade paperback via Amazon or Amazon U.K.

For more information about Pinctada, other books in the Myers/Benton Chronicles, or other examples of my literary efforts, please visit Jeff Lee Byrem Creations

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