I was sitting selling iWrapz: a crappy product made to rip off rich and poor Americans with a lot of plastic money, at a famous mall in Arlington, Texas. This is what I did for a living to support myself financially. A middle-aged lady walked up to me and started browsing the products. She took the iWrapz case with the Che image and told me to stop selling the image of a “mass murderer”.
What I knew of Che was general knowledge. I might have adorned myself with the good old RATM t-shirt with the red star myself in college. He was cool. But as this incident happened it sparked a question in me, “Who is this guy?” .I went home and watched every movie that resulted after the search of the word “Che” on my Netflix. I had spent hours on the internet researching him and reading about him. And then I came across this statement one day.
“I am not Christ or a philanthropist, old lady, I am all the contrary of a Christ…. I fight for the things I believe in, with all the weapons at my disposal and try to leave the other man dead so that I don’t get nailed to a cross or any other place.”
The way I understood this is that there have been mass murderers and crusaders of good over evil since time known to mankind. To name a few Ram, Arjuna, Guru Nanak and all these people did pick up a weapon. Men have always done this to withhold the culture of war and what they perceive to be the truth. For some it may be a religious belief and in the rather modern times political views. There is a big or small rebel in every corner of the world. Ready to wage a war. Some like Gandhi, Martin L King, and Mandela have chosen different forms of warfare. But all of the names I have taken were men who were rebels in their own right and beliefs. Che was the common man’s man. It’s how you see him. He is an icon just like any other. He embodies rebellion and it touches the psyche of a lot of people like myself. The other half call people like me leftist. Che fought with his heart, he was hardened by the truth and became a guerrilla fighter. Why does the guerrilla fighter fight? We must come to the inevitable conclusion that the guerrilla fighter is a social reformer, that he takes up arms responding to the angry protest of the people against their oppressors, and that he fights in order to change the social system that keeps all his unarmed brothers in ignominy and misery.
We love sticking photos of these rebels on our walls. We even worship them. The American lady’s understanding was that which Hollywood taught her and mine is of a third world optimist. And then i look at our people’s war and wonder if the generation next will adorn a Bogati or Prachanda Tee?