Prosperity isn’t even a word in the Hawaiian language, Ka`imi said. It’s an entirely Western concept, that idea of making good in a way that sets you apart from others; accumulating possessions with an eye toward achieving status; attracting money and material things to be stored up, hoarded.
But there is waiwai, she reminded him, the word used interchangeably for water and wealth, and she’d experienced it herself at Aliomanu, just recently. Walking to the beach, after a month of heavy rains, she’d noticed naupaka leaves, plumped and swollen; ironwood needles, a tender pale green; springy moss, clinging thickly to gray pohaku.
The red soil had darkened deep brown with a surfeit of wet; heliotrope seedlings had sprung boldly from the sand.
It was suddenly all so rich, so plush, so luxuriant, that drought-parched patch of east Kauai coastline, restored to vibrant life by rain alone.
That’s when she saw with her own eyes, she told him, that waiwai truly is wealth. Because everything in that moist scene was so lushly abundant, it seemed wholly ludicrous to value anything more than water.
And you can call the rain, he reminded her. You can evoke the water; you can turn the trickle into a torrent. Isn’t that prosperity?