The Ghat of the Only World
By- Amitav Ghosh
Short Answer Questions
1.What information do you gather about Shahid from this lesson?
Ans. Shahid was a Kashmiri by birth. He had migrated to the US. He was a man of letters, a poet and professor. But he contracted cancer there. He was under treatment for 14 months. He was operated upon thrice for a brain tumour. But no treatment could save him from his untimely death.
2. How did the author come to know of Shahid’s approaching death?
Ans. Once while scanning and thumbing through his engagement book Shahid spoke that he could not see a thing. He added that he hoped he did not mean that he was dying. This telephonic talk between Shahid and the author gave the author a feeling of Shahid’s approaching death.
3. When and where did Amitav and Shahid become friends? How did their friendship grow?
Ans. Shahid and Amitav became friends in Brooklyn, US. They lived a few blocks apart. But they began to meet for occasional meals. By that time Shahid’s condition was already serious. But that did not stand in the progress of their friendship.
4. What responsibility did Shahid entrust to the writer? How did Amitav keep his promise?
Ans. The first time Agha Shahid Ali spoke to the writer about his approaching death was on 25 April 2001. He had been under cancer treatment for some 14 months. He had already suffered a few lapses of memory. He requested Amitav to write something about him after his death. And Amitav kept his promise.
5. What was Shahid’s profession? How much success did he become in his field?
Ans. Shahid was a poet and a teacher. His first collection of poems was The Country without a Post Office. No one had a greater influence on his poetry than James Merill. He taught at Baruch college in 2000, the University at Amherst, and finally the University of Utah. He was very popular among the students who almost adored him. He was all success.
6. In what spirit did Shahid receive his approaching end?
Ans. Shahid had his first blackout in February 2000. By 21 May, he had already undergone several unsuccessful operations. He had a malignant brain tumour. But he had no time to be depressed. He remained lively, sociable and a food lover till the end. He spoke about his approaching death to Amitav on 25 April 2001.
7. What do you know about Shahid’s likes and dislikes? Which things were most dear to him?
Ans. Shahid was a wonderful friend and brilliant poet. He was fond of Kashmiri food, of partying at his house, of music and of Mumbai films. He loved the camera, the rogan josh and the songs of Kishore Kumar as well as Begum Akhtar. He had no interest in cricket.
8. How can you say that Shahid was gregarious and sociable?
Ans. Shahid’s gregariousness or love of company had no limit. Almost every evening his friends used to gather in his living room. They sang songs and shared food. He enjoyed their company and was always ready to serve. This showed his spirit of festivity.
9. Shahid’s vision was secular and all-inclusive. Give an instance from his childhood to support the statement.
Ans. Shahid had his roots in Kashmir. He kept a constant watch on his native state. He was deeply pained to see violence there. But he was never a political poet. He did not believe in mixing politics with religion. In childhood, the had set up a small Hindu temple also in his room. He condemned fanatic people.
10. Describe the incident of the wheelchair at the hospital.
Ans. On 21 May, the writer went to fetch Shahid from the hospital. Award boy arrived with a wheelchair. Shahid sent him back. He declared that he was strong enough to walk out of the hospital on his own. But his knees failed after a few steps. The hospital orderly had to be called again with the wheelchair.
11. Where did Shahid want to die? Was his last wish fulfilled?
Ans. Shahid loved his homeland although he, along with his brother and two sisters, had spent many years in the US. He wanted to go back to Kashmir to die. But for some reasons. he changed his mind. He died in America and was laid to rest in Northampton,
12. What do you know about Shahid’s love for cookery?
Ans. Shahid was an expert in cookery. He used to spend days over the planning and preparation of a dinner party. He stuck to traditional methods and recipes. He had a special passion for Kashmiri dishes. He could tell from the smell alone which stage the rogan josh had reached. He did not like shortcuts while cooking a dish.
13. Which English poet influenced Shahid’s poetry most?
Ans. Shahid’s poetry was at once lyrical and disciplined. While in Arizona, he met James Merill. This American poet changed the direction of his poetry. No one had a greater influence on Shahid’s poetry than Merill. After his encounter with him, Shahid started experimenting with metrical patterns and verse forms.
14. Shahid was no mean practitioner of repartee. Recall the occasion at Barcelona Airport.
Ans. Shahid had so many stories to tell about Begum Akhtar’s sharpness in repartee. He himself was no less witty. He was good at the art of giving sharp and clever answers. At Barcelona airport, the woman guard asked him what he did and if he was carrying anything which could be dangerous to other passengers. He said that he was a poet and was carrying only his heart with him.
15. How did the development in Kashmir affect Shahid in the USA?
Ans. The political situation in Kashmir was full of violence. It affected him greatly. But he was not a political poet. He respected his art of writing more than what he was writing about. He respected religion but believed firmly in its separation from politics. Development in Kashmir pained him a lot.
16. Describe the last moments of Shahid’s life. What was his supreme consolation?
Ans. Shahid struggled with cancer for over 14 months. Even during the last days of his life, Shahid was the centre of a perpetual carnival, always surrounded by his friends, food, laughter and of course poetry. He wished to return to Kashmir to die. But he couldn’t make it to his homeland. He died in America and was buried in Northampton. He had made his peace with the approaching death. His greatest consolation was that he would meet his mother in the afterlife.
17. How did the writer feel after Shahid’s death?
Ans. Amitav felt the loss of his friend Shahid deeply. His friendship with Shahid was brief, yet Shahid’s death created a vast void in his life. He missed his great friend and his memories haunted him time and again.
18. Comment on the title of the lesson The Ghat of the only World.
Ans. The title of this article has been taken from a poem of Shahid. It sounded as his farewell to the world. He knew for certain that his death was near. So he regarded himself like a loner standing on the bank of the only world. He wrote—”I dream I Am At The Ghat of the Only World.”