9th October, 1967. In the remote village La Higuera in Bolivia an era came to an end. A legend was born. The forest absorbed and still echoes with the rhythmic cry. Amazon still sheds those very tears. Ernesto Che Guevara was dead, executed in cold blood.
Staring into the eyes of his executioner, he had said: “I know you’ve come to kill me. Shoot, coward, you are only going to kill a man.” Nine bullets were buried into his flesh, from head to toes, to almost everywhere. It was as if the shooter was afraid that Che may survive and wanted to make his death absolutely sure. Little did he know that as he was killing the man, he was breathing fresh life into the ideal. The ideal that one day, outside in the vast stretches of land, beyond La Higuera, somehow liberation would come. And as the dust of the loss settles the immortal revolution would rise. For strange are the ways of this struggle. When one man perishes, in turn a hundred minds are set free.
Four decades separate me from Che. But the image of the man remains crystal clear. I had lost my sense. I felt empty standing among the rosy company of the educated breed. But then it all changed in one moment. And it was no book or a precise reason that changed it. It was a mere glance on to the other side. The side Che called call the side of deprivation.
Now I see this point through the eyes of history. There has never been more need for another Ernesto. The leader among leaders, the well spring of revolution and change. A beacon of unrelenting hope. But change demands a direction. And power. To ride through the will and over the intent of those being changed. Be it a pen or a gun, only the tools differ. As long as it is the feeling of mutual love that drives the revolution, the dream lives on and so does the optimism.
After all we don’t fight fascism or imperialism or even extremism. These are highly vague disguises. In reality we are fighting human misery, one of a kind that spreads like the ripples in a pond. Yet our objective doesn’t lie in ending the ordeal; we must paint our skyline in the colour of satisfaction. A twilight to a new morning.
But the tide won’t shift on its own. Something needs to kick start it. A pending revolution is like a corked bottles turned upside down, after being shaken well and violently. You just need to uncork and then everything flows with a big pop.
Who will uncork the bottles, I do not know. But the real danger lies in not uncorking at all. The pressure will settle and all that will be left will be foam and froth. We will ruin our generation and muddle the paths for those who are still to come. Carrying the guilt of our inability we will walk into history among the forgotten.
Maybe we need a miracle. May be we need an Ernesto or a gift of a visionary like him. Or maybe we just need a moment, to close in and listen to the rhythmic cry that engulfed the forest on that very dark night in La Higuera.
As Ernesto Che Guevara said: “I am not a liberator. Liberators do not exist. The people liberate themselves.”