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Thursday, Feb. 10, 2005 - 3:06 a.m.

On the first day of medical school, a stethoscope was presented to each of the new medical students by the Dean of the faculty in a simple ceremony, held on the lawn of the University of Buenos Aires. After the ceremony, some of the students posed for photographs with their parents, or headed into the marquee for food. The professors held cups of coffee and talked amongst themselves, shaking their collective heads at the incoming class. Ernesto was the only one who stood in the middle of the lawn, holding the stethoscope in his hand. Without conscious control, he plugs the earbuds of the stethoscope into his ears and slides the smooth metal circle of the stethoscope's listening piece between two shirt buttons onto his chest. He hears his own hearbeat for the very first time. Then, Ernesto removes the metal circle from his chest, holds it facing outwards and closes his eyes, listening for the breathing of the world. As he stood on the grass lawn under the blazing South American sun that morning, he heard nothing. But in the years to come, he will hear the creaking wheels of hospital trolleys, the fading heartbeats of the terminally ill, the unfettered laughter of lepers, and people calling him by his other names - Fuser, Doctor, Comrade, Che.

Note: Fuser was Che Guevera's (born Ernesto Rafael Guevara) nickname.


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