What if we ask you about the very foundation of life? Millennials would probably answer “Money, duh!” Emotions are essential aspects of our overall well-being; they dictate our awareness and regulate our ability to communicate and learn. When an emotion is healthy, they repeat themselves endlessly, especially love. And even though the world today remains unbothered, love was a fascinating emotional and mental condition for the world beyond. Our mythologies provide not just one but numerous love stories that signify different aspects of affection.

It is unsurprising, then, our mythologies are full of powerful yet serene stories about love constructed in a way that gives us lessons of emotional freedom and steadfast promises beyond life and death.

Let us take you through an ancient Chinese love story- The Butterfly Lovers

Long ago in China, girls were expected to stay at home and learn household work while boys enjoyed the liberty to study and explore. But Zhu Yingtai, the young daughter of a wealthy family, desired more. As a responsible young girl, Zhu persuades her father to let her go to school disguised as a man. Her father had once promised Zhu that he would let her study if she gets admission to school, as he was confident that no school would ever enroll a girl. Zhu disguised as a boy succeeded to get admission into a school in the city of Hangzhou, where her aunt lived. Her father now had no more reason to stop her and thus allowed her to study only on one condition- that she would never reveal her true identity.

Butterfly Lovers

On her way to Hangzhou, she met a young boy named Liang who happened to be her classmate at school. Along the way, they both chatted and felt an intense connection between them. They both were even roommates and quickly became best friends and later sworn brothers. They would study, eat, play, and live together except, Zhu would never allow him inside the toilet or during changing. She would wear huge clothes covering her body from neck to toe no matter what weather.

Three years later, Zhu was recalled by her father as he has promised her hand to the son of another wealthy family. As a responsible daughter, Zhu agreed to return. She bid a teary farewell to Liang and asked him to come to visit her once. After Zhu left, Liang felt weird loneliness and became quickly ill. He decided to pay his dear friend a visit and went to Zhu’s house. When he arrived, he was shocked and realized that his best friend was actually a girl! He now understood his strong connection to Zhu and the bond quickly developed into love. He at once asked Zhu to marry him. Though Zhu always loved Liang, he was rejected by her father on account of her betrothal, as breaking a promise would bring great shame to her family.

Liang dies from grief and was buried by the road outside the village of Zhu’s fiancé. When the wedding day arrived, Zhu was devastated and as she was escorted to her fiancé’s house for the wedding, a raging storm suddenly forced the procession to stop by Liang’s grave.

Zhu jumped from the wedding procession and ran towards his grave to mourn her lover. Just as she reached the grave a pearl of thunder suddenly dent Liang’s grave and the next moment a bolt of lightning hit it breaking it open. Zhu without hesitation at once leaped into it, when her relatives arrived, they discovered that the bride is no more. Just when the grave was discovered empty, out flew two butterflies, dancing as if they could not believe they were together. 

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