Lately, my inclination to get myself inked led me to ponder over my passions. What are the things that truly excite me, what are the stuffs which have such overpowering relevance that I would be willing to bear their mark on me for the rest of my life? Well, retrospection led me to a very few things, which give me that want-to-die-for kick.
I decided to go for one of Che’s quotes, which I felt would be the perfect one for me.
Listening to my decision of getting a Che’s quote as one of my tattoos, my closest cousin seemed to get slightly outraged. He asked me if I believed in his principles and ideologies to actually want to make a tattoo out of one of his quotes. He said it is easy to have a fascination for a guy who is popular but to truly understand him one has to go out and work on the streets and try and execute the principles for which he lived and sacrificed his life for. In plain and simple terms, my brother quite casually asked me if I was ready to be a part of a rebellion or guerrilla warfare if given a chance today. It was a light-hearted conversation and soon veered off to something else.
But long after the conversation I kept thinking how come I, such a tamed and domesticated person, have such a deep-rooted fascination for a man who stands for rebellion, revolution and warfare – a man who didn’t have the luxury to have a permanent residence of his own beyond his childhood years, a man who spent most of his days and nights as a guerrilla fighter in the jungles of South America.
‘Hasta le Victoria siempre’ when translated from Spanish stands as ‘Until Victory, Always’. A line that symbolises the ever-fighting spirit of the human mind amidst all the tribulations that life offers. Apart from the fact that it is one of Che’s very famous quotes, this line has a beautiful essence along with a universal appeal. But coming from the man I revere it assumes a whole new proportion altogether.
But what is this all about Ernesto Che Guevara’s everlasting magic and aura? Who is this charmer from South America who has had the entire world enthralled for years? Revolutionaries have come and gone but Che’s appeal instead of diminishing has soared manifold with time. And even with people who are not remotely related with his life or nation are his greatest worshippers. Maybe people like me. My veneration for the man is not merely because he fought an admirable coup in Cuba with Fidel Castro and his men and won the Cubans freedom from oppression of Batistita’s dictatorship. For me he represents what freedom and emancipation stand for.
A man who wanted to spread socialism the world over, Che was certainly one of a kind. Born an Argentinean, he could have spent an entire lifetime as a doctor in his country or if he was ambitions then made forays into the American or English territories as a medical practitioner and earned thousands of dollars and led a life of opulence that only countless pounds can fetch.
But it has never been easy for a man with a conscience. As a medical student while touring South America on a motorcycle, his heart was set on achieving the impossible. Standing at a threshold where the world is mostly dominated by capitalist ideologies, it’s certainly hard to conceive of a society sans hunger, poverty and deprivation. For those of us who are not victims of major discrimination, it’s very common to accept that a smaller section of the society will prosper and flourish at the cost of its larger counterpart – capitalist ideology being practised at its ideal manner.
However, Che was not meant to be ordinary. He went beyond thinking and looking at things from his personal point of view. He went beyond Argentina and fought the hard battle at Cuba. Freedom won, when everybody would want to consolidate his place in the newfound socialist government at victorious Cuba, the restless charmer, wanted to eradicate poverty and bring happiness in places where he felt his presence was needed. He knew Cuba was safe in his friend Fidel’s hands and he set forth to Bolivia, Congo and many other parts of the world. His death finally came at the hands of the Bolivians.
His dream was for a world where there would be happy faces everywhere – a world order where a morsel won’t be snatched from a child’s plate to be piled onto another’s who probably might just not need it. His happiness lay in a unique world harmony that could never be measured with money. His socialist call was a universal one. “Proletarians of all countries, Unite!” This famous line from Communist Manifesto rings so true in every action that Che conceived of in his lifetime. His heart went out to proletariats the world over and thereby his call was a universal one.
A die-hard follower of the political philosopher Karl Marx, Che used Marx’s teachings as his ideological inspiration. A voracious reader who loved to scribble his thoughts all the time, Che writes,
“The merit of Marx is that he suddenly produces a qualitative change in the history of social thought. He interprets history, understands its dynamic, predicts the future, but in addition to predicting it (which would satisfy his scientific obligation), he expresses a revolutionary concept: the world must not only be interpreted, it must be transformed. Man ceases to be the slave and tool of his environment and converts himself into the architect of his own destiny.”
He felt that time has come when each one of us must take the reign of our life in our own hands instead of it being led as it has been happening for centuries. The sad part comes when the oppressed people fail to realise the extent of their oppression and take it as a way of life that fate has offered. Che was the crusader of the oppressed, the exploited and the subjugated. He fought their battle and helped them realise that the world is also theirs and they have every right to lead it in the most respectable manner possible. He taught people how to dream. He died but oppression didn’t. So even if his physical presence is not there, he is with the have-nots in spirit. He remains the biggest symbol of rebellion in today’s world. No wonder his last words to his hesitant executioner had been, “Shoot me, you coward! You are only going to kill a man!”
Che had started a rebellion that is still alive in today’s context. It is not limited to his native country Argentina, his beloved country Cuba or the nation of his death, Bolivia. The rebellion, the rising has spread beyond the South American boundaries to territories the world over. And his followers are not necessarily people with guns, people who spurn religion or faith, people who fight guerrilla warfare, people in politics or people who are in power.
His worshippers can be found even among the apparently puny lot who do not come with the baggage of being authoritative. They can be among the ones who are extremely ordinary and merely busy with the struggles of their daily sustenance. His truest followers might not always walk the path he did but they whole-heartedly believe in his calling, so that when the opportune moment arrives, they won’t shirk from executing his principles into action.