The Greatest Gift

An old woman told me to travel to the jungles of the south to find the most precious stones as a gift for my love; she also warned me that the quest may not be easy.

In the forests of the south one can only witness wild life and nothing more. I wondered, ‘Where should I look to find the stones?’ And I knew anything valuable cannot be found easily, otherwise it would be worthless. Nine days and nights I searched in the woods until I found an abyss the sight of which chilled me in my spine as though I was gazing into the eye of Satan. I climbed down the abyss, and there it was a shining light in the muds, and I was excited to finally have found a stone! As I reached to collect it, a jaguar leaped at me, and ripped my right eye with his claws. ‘Don’t kill me,’ I cried, ‘I only want the stone for my beloved, I have no desire for it!’ The animal laughed and said, ‘Oh, a lover, I see. Why should I not kill you?’ ‘Because I paid you an eye!’ said I, ‘and I know your miserable soul sustains on the eyes of your victims. How many years have you been waiting around these muds for a man to come? I am sure it has been a long time since you had a meal. If you eat me now, you will have only eaten once, but if you let me go, I will tell any man I see about the location of your precious stones without mentioning you. What say you?’ ‘Clever and charming, too! Take the stone, and this secret, also, because your wits put me into my generous self; those stones only please the eyes – a woman’s ears are the gateway to her heart. You should go north.’

I will spare you with the little stories of traveling to the far north, my dear, and tell you what happened at the north; I arrived at the foot of a mountain so tall it extended to heavens.

‘Ah, not again! I am sick of all climbing!’ was my cry. I walked around to find a way on that unclimbable mountain; I was lucky to find a cave with a sleeping dragon in it, and so I went to negotiate with the creature. ‘Wake up, little chicken! Wake up! I have no time for nonsense, so let us get straight to the point. I will give you this precious stone, and you shall fly me to the highest point of this mountain. What say you?’ She flew me above the skies – I did not expect heavens to be empty; there I was, at the highest altitude where an eagle guarded a golden lyre; the eagle saw me, and said, ‘Make haste! Offer an ear, and I will teach you to play this instrument whose sound fills anyone with love and lust.’ That bird was impatient compared to the one that gave me a ride. I stepped forward, cowardly closing my only eye, she then ripped my left ear in an instant, and it was a bargain price. I had the chance to sit in absolute silence between heaven and earth, and I played something with the lyre, something that was the sound of love itself. The dragon came back, and again, without saying a word, flew me down to earth, as though she heard the lyre.

From my heart rose a voice that said to me, although that golden lyre is a good gift for my darling, the sound it makes may only please the ears; and I knew my quest was not ended yet, so I searched, and played the lyre.

Gradually all my hopes for finding the perfect gift vanished; in hopelessness I met myself, in form of my childhood, youth and old age; they promised to guide me to the perfect gift in exchange for a sacrifice so painful I cannot speak of it; that was the only time I hesitated, for two reasons: I could not bear the pain, and I did not trust them; eventually I convinced myself to give what was asked of me, and so they guided me to love and truth.

And now I stand before you, my dearest, with all these treasures, but these are worthless, for you alone, my delicate lady, are the absolute truth, and I am only a lie; you are the greatest gift! how can I give you to you?