Persistent rumours about Gabriel Garcia Marquez's failing health.had been around ever since he was treated for lymphatic cancer in the summer of 1999.
These rumours were seemingly confirmed when a "poem" titled "La Marioneta" or "The Puppet" bearing his name appeared in the Peruvian daily La Republica on May 29, 2000.
It was reported to be a farewell poem that Marquez had supposedly written and sent out to his closest friends on account of his worsening condition.
On May 30 it was reproduced in Mexico City dailies, with La Cronica publishing it superimposed on a photograph of Marquez on the front page with a headline that read "Gabriel Garcia Marquez sings a song to life."
The poem was also read on many radio stations and spread quickly throughout the world via the internet, its translation even eventually making it to Indian shores and filmmaker Mrinal Sen declaring to the Hindustan Times that upon reading the poem he was flooded with memories from his 20 years of acquaintance with the Nobel laureate.
It turned out that the real author of the poem was Mexican ventriloquist Johnny Welch, who had written it for his puppet sidekick "Mofles" and told Mexico's InfoRed radio station that he was nevertheless "feeling the disappointment of someone who has written something and is not getting credit."
If for a moment God would forget that I am a rag doll and give me a scrap of life, possibly I would not say everything that I think, but I would definitely think everything that I say.
I would value things not for how much they are worth but rather for what they mean.
I would sleep little, dream more. I know that for each minute that we close our eyes we lose sixty seconds of light.
I would walk when the others loiter; I would awaken when the others sleep.
I would listen when the others speak, and how I would enjoy a good chocolate ice cream.
If God would bestow on me a scrap of life, I would dress simply, I would throw myself flat under the sun, exposing not only my body but also my soul.
My God, if I had a heart, I would write my hatred on ice and wait for the sun to come out. With a dream of Van Gogh I would paint on the stars a poem by Benedetti, and a song by Serrat would be my serenade to the moon.
With my tears I would water the roses, to feel the pain of their thorns and the incarnated kiss of their petals...My God, if I only had a scrap of life...
I wouldn't let a single day go by without saying to people I love, that I love them.
I would convince each woman or man that they are my favourites and I would live in love with love.
I would prove to the men how mistaken they are in thinking that they no longer fall in love when they grow old--not knowing that they grow old when they stop falling in love. To a child I would give wings, but I would let him learn how to fly by himself. To the old I would teach that death comes not with old age but with forgetting. I have learned so much from you men....
I have learned that everybody wants to live at the top of the mountain without realizing that true happiness lies in the way we climb the slope.
I have learned that when a newborn first squeezes his father's finger in his tiny fist, he has caught him forever.
I have learned that a man only has the right to look down on another man when it is to help him to stand up. I have learned so many things from you, but in the end most of it will be no use because when they put me inside that suitcase, unfortunately I will be dying.