If you are looking for something that ends with "and they all lived happily ever after", go to a different story. The Guaraní, the indigenous people of Paraguay, didn't tell those kind of stories. In the stories I found, nobody lived happily ever after. This is no exception.

Irupé was in love.  However, she wasn't in love with the boy next door.  And, she wasn't even in love with the dashing and handsome young prince of the kingdom.  Irupé set her sights higher than that.  The young maiden really, actually, literally set her sights higher than that.  For you see, Irupé was in love with the moon.

"His light glistens on my skin!" she whispered when nobody else could hear her words.  "I know he shines so brightly just for me."

Night after night, the maiden gazed up into the evening sky to watch her love's path across the heavens.  Under his peaceful light, Irupé fell asleep, dreaming that some day she might actually be with her true love.   Although many other young men wanted to marry her, Irupé had nothing to do with them.  All of her heart belonged to the moon.  The young men walked away with broken hearts while Tupá, the Guaraní god of creation, slowly shook his head. 

On the night of the full moon, Irupé could take it no more.  "If you cannot come down to me, then I must come up to you, my love!" cried the young maiden.  And, that's just what she tried to do.  She located the highest tree in her garden and slowly climbed the trunk.  It was a difficult task, but she was a maiden on a mission.  Of course, she reached the top of the tree and then raised her arms toward the sky.  "I'm here, my love, atop the tree.  Come down to earth and marry me!" she cried. 

Of course, the moon never left his place in the heavens.  It was a love that could never be.  Although the young maiden eventually climbed down the tree in the wee hours of the morning, she did not give up her mission.  Somehow, some day, she would be with her true love!  As she cried herself to sleep, Tupá slowly shook his head.

The next morning, Irupé was certain of one thing. "If he cannot come to me, then he must be in trouble!"  And, she knew what she had to do.  The young maiden left her home in the gentle valley and climbed towards the mountains.  Of course, the only mountain that would do was the one with the highest peak.  It was a difficult journey that took the entire day.  But, as the moon slipped over the horizon, Irupé raised her arms from the mountain top and cried, "I'm here, my love, on mountain high.  Come marry me or I will die!"

Again, the moon never left his place in the heavens.  It was a love that could never be.  Eventually, in the wee hours of the morning, the young maiden huddled for shelter among some rocks.  As the sun warmed the mountain top, Irupé slowly made her way home.  Each time she stumbled on the rocky path, Tupá slowly shook his head.

If Irupé was anything, she was a stubborn young girl in love.  And, although the moon hadn't come down to her, she was determined to find her way to him.  "Something terrible is keeping him from me," she knew in her heart.  "I must find a way to help my love!"

The next day, as she looked out across the fields, Irupé knew what she had to do.  "Every night my love starts his journey across the sky at the horizon.  That is where I must go to meet him.  At last, we will truly be together!"

If she had asked anyone, they would have told her you can't actually reach the horizon.  No matter how far you walk, it's always as far away as you can see.  But, Irupé wouldn't have listened to that advice anyway.  She grabbed a little food and was on her way. 

It was a long walk.  The farther Irupé walked from her village, the more difficult the roads became.  The poor little maiden was not prepared for such a journey.  In the heat of the afternoon, all of her food was gone, and the horizon was no closer at all.  Irupé walked the entire day.  As the sky darkened, she could barely stand on her blistered feet.  But, when she saw the moon climb over the horizon, she stood as straight as she could, raised her arms and cried," I'm here, my love, where earth meets sky. Come down to me from up on high!"  

Once again, the moon never left his place in the heavens.  It was a love that could never be.  In the wee hours of the morning, long after Irupé had been able to stand, the young maiden huddled for warmth along the side of the path.  The moon never came to see her and Tupá slowly shook his head.

The walk towards home was long and heartbreaking for the young maiden.  The blisters on her feet slowed down her progress.  Even more painful for Irupé, for the third time, her true love didn't come down to be with her.  Still far from home, the young maiden hobbled along the road as the sun went down. 

When she spied a lake along the way, Irupé decided to cool her feet in the soothing waters.  Just as the young maiden seated herself along the water's edge, she gasped. Then, she took a second look just to be sure.  Deep in the cool waters of the lake, Irupé saw the reflection of the moon.  He was so close that the young maiden truly believed she could touch him.  "At last!  My love has come for me.  We shall be wed eternally!"  And, without a moment's hesitation, Irupé plunged beneath the surface of the lake to finally be with her true love. 

The water instantly wrapped itself around the maiden.  And, she never returned to the surface.

For the final time, the moon never left his place in the heavens.  It was a love that could never be.  In the wee hours of the morning, long after Irupé vanished beneath the surface of the lake, Tupá slowly shook his head.  In memory of the love that would never be fulfilled, the god of creation turned the young maiden into an irupé, the giant water lily.  The giant round leaves of the irupé, shaped like the moon she so adored, face upwards to follow the path of the moon at night.  They will do this forever because the moon will never leave his place in the heavens.

Copyright 2012 by Phillip Martin All rights reserved.