Summary and Explanation of The Ghat of The Only World by Amitav Ghosh Class 11th
There are two characters in this chapter. These two characters are Amitava Ghosh and Aga Shahid Ali. Amitava Ghosh is the author of the essay and he wrote the essay about Aga Shahid Ali, his friend. Agha Shahid Ali, a young and dynamic person, suffers from an incurable disease of a malignant brain tumour and knows that death will anytime knock his door. Being aware that he is dying very soon, Again Shahid asks the author to write something about him when he dies. At first, Amitav Ghosh can’t think of the words he can answer, but at last, he promises him that he will do his best to write about him. From that very day on, the author begins to recollect all the memories of his beloved friend’s in order to fulfil his promise. When Shahid Ali dies at the age of 52, Amitabh Gosh writes this wonderful essay about him which he names “The Ghat of The Only World.”
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The Ghat of the One World is originally the name of a famous poem written in the collection of his poems Rooms Are Never Finished by Aga Shahid Ali. The poet recalls all his loved ones who died and were alienated from another world in this poem. The poem is thus written in response to the realization by the poet that his death is approaching. He feels that his loved ones call him from the other side of the Ghat.
Ghat is a Kashmiri word, also used in Urdu. It means the spot on a bank of the river from where the boats leave to another side. The ghat of the only world means that after a person finishes his journey in this world he feels at the point of the world. It is therefore used as a metaphor for death. It means the point from where a man departs to another world, which is called hereafter in common parlance. Agha Shahid used to say that he would meet his mother in the hereafter if there was hereafter. He dreamed that he had finished his journey of life and stood at the door of another world “The Ghat of the Only World”.
Now let’s explain the text of the essay.
Amitav writes that on 25 April 2001, he had a routine conversation with Shahid. During the conversation, Aga Shahid Ali first time expressed before him about his approaching death. Although he had been under treatment for fourteen months, Shahid was still on his feet. Aga Shahid told him in the quizzical voice that he wants him to write about him when he dies. To quote the actual words, “When it happens I hope you’ll write something about him “. On hearing these words of Shahid, he was shocked. At first, he is unable to say anything but after a few moments, he managed to say to him that he would be alright and he had to be strong.
Shahid was living some eight blocks away from his Study. Earlier he had been living in Manhattan. But after tests revealed that he had a malignant brain tumour, he moved to Brooklyn to be close to his youngest sister Sameera. The author says when he reassured him that he would be fine, Shahid began to laugh. He realized that he was dead serious. He understood that Shahid was firmly entrusting him a specific charge which he should not ignore. However, he was unable to search the words in which one promises friends that he will write to him after he dies. Finally, he told him, “Shahid, I will. I’ll do the best I can”. That said, the author picked up his pen and noted everything about the conversation. He continued this process for the next few months. It is this record that made him able to fulfil his promise that he had made with Shahid that day.
The author writes that he knew about Shahid’s work much time before he actually met him. Shahid’s famous collection, “The Country Without a Post Office” published in 1997 had a strong impact on him. The author also mentions that Shahid was a great poet and unique in many ways. The author adds that in 1998, he mentioned a line from The Country Without a Post Office in an article that touched briefly on Kashmir. That time he only knew that Shahid was from Srinagar and had studied in Delhi. He too had studied at Delhi University that time but had never met.
The author further said that they had many common friends and one of them put him in connection to Shahid. After that, they had several conversations and even they met each other number of times. When they come to know each other they found that they had many things in common. Both had a big list of common friends in India, America and elsewhere. Both loved the music of Roshanara Baigum and Kishore Kumar. Both also had an equal passion rogan josh and other foods. Both disliked cricket and both were fond of Bollywood films. Shahid was fanatic of meals and festivity. He loved gatherings. It gave him a real joy. He often invited people for lunch mostly for friendly conversation. Even his fatal disease did not impede him from doing and enjoying things.
He was remarkably bold. Even his life was consumed by his dangerous disease, Shahid was always a focus of carnival and limitless source of talk, laughter, food, and poetry. One day a crew arrived with a television screen. Shahid poured out, ‘I’m so shameless; I just love the camera’. Shahid turned simple things into the surprising ones. One day when Shahid was taken for surgery. He had already been through some unsuccessful operations. When the time reached to leave the hospital, a blue-uniformed hospital guard arrived with a wheelchair to carry Shahid. Shahid waved him away and walked on his own.
But after a few steps, his feet buckled. The hospital escort returned. Shahid smiled at him and asked him his address. The hospital escort said that he was from Spain. Shahid clapped hands and cried in the loudest voice, “I always wanted to learn Spanish, just to read Lorca”. Garcia Lorca as you know was a famous poet and dramatist of Spain.
Shahid was remarkably talented in the kitchen. He would days over the preparation of dinner parties. He would invite people to the parties. In one of such parties he gave in Arizona, he met James Merrill. James Merrill drastically changed the pattern of his poetry. After he met James Merrill he began to write the poetry with strict metrical patterns and verse forms.
Shahid has a wonderful passion for the food of his region. He loved the different variants of Kashmir particularly Kashmiri food in the Pandit style. The author writes that one day he asked Shahid why he gave so much importance it. Shahid that it was explained because often dreamed about the Pandits. He frequently thought how the Pandits has vanished from Kashmir and their food became extinct. This was the thing that repeatedly haunted him.
Shahid was also a great repartee. Repartee means the person who is quick and amusing at answers and remarks in a conversation. Once at Barcelona airport, Shahid was stopped by a woman security guard for security checkup. She asked Shahid what he did he do. Shahid replied that he was a poet. The woman also asked him what he was doing in Spain. Shahid retorted that he was doing poetry. The woman got very angry. In anger, she enquired Shahid if he was carrying anything that could be dangerous to the passengers. At this Shahid uniquely clapped his hand to his chest add shout: ‘Only my heart.”
Shahid was also a brilliant teacher. Amitav writes that he had heard a great deal about the brilliance of his teaching. He also saw him teaching at Baruch College in 2000 and this was to be his last class. On that day he discovered how much his students loved him. The students had printed a magazine and dedicated the issue to him. When a student from India arrived late, Shahid greeted her and utter in a loud voice, “Ah my little subcontinental has arrived! ” It the feeling of patriotism always stirred him whenever he would see or behold another South Asian. He remembered the time at Penn State with absolute pleasure. He once said to a vibrant group of students that he grew as a reader, he grew as a poet and he grew as a lover. Shahid used to say that his time at Penn State was the happiest time of his life. Subsequently, he went to Arizona to take a degree in creative writing. After that, he performed a series of jobs in colleges and universities. He taught at Hamilton College, the University of Massachusetts and finally at the University of Utah where he was appointed as professor in 1999. When he had his first blackout in February 2000, at that time he was on leave from Utah University.
Shahid was originally the residence of Kashmir. From 1975 onwards, when he moved to Pennsylvania, he lived mainly in America. His brother and two sisters also there but his parents continued to live in Srinagar. Shahid would spend the summer season with his parents at Srinagar every year. Shahid was a first-hand witness to the mounting violence that enmeshed the valley from the 1980s onwards. Shahid was inclusive and ecumenical in his outlook. Ecumenical means the person who treats the people of different parallel and one who unites the people of different religions and sects. In his childhood, he made a Hindu temple in his room in Srinagar and his parents also supported him. One day when the author told Shahid that he was the closest to national poet of Kashmir. Shahid retorted: ‘ “A national poet. But not a nationalist poet; please not that”. Shahid was profoundly linked with Kashmir. In “The Country Without a Post Office” he returns to Kashmir to discover its fallen minaret:
I will die, in autumn, in Kashmir,
And the shadowed routine of each vein
Will almost be news, the blood censored,
For the Saffron Sun and the Times of Rain
Tag: The Ghat of The Only World
The author says that one day he had one more noted telephone conversation with Shahid. Shahid had gone to the hospital for a scan to see if the chemotherapy he was going through had any positive effect. The author had called him several times but there was no response. Then the author called him the next morning, this time he answered. He points out and said that doctors had stopped all his medicines and they gave him less a year. Then the author told him what he would do. Shahid calmly replied that he would return to Kashmir to die. He added that he didn’t want to leave a mess for his siblings. He would return to Kashmir where he would get a lot of support and his father was also there. However, later due to some logistical and other reasons, he changed his idea of returning to Kashmir. He was content to be laid to rest in Northampton near to one of his beloveds Emily Dickinson.
In the final paragraph, the author writes that the last time he saw Shahid was on 27 October at his brother’s house. They had a routine conversation with each other. There was no trace of worry or anguish on Shahid’s face. He had made his peace with the approaching end. He was calm and contended surrounded by his family and friends. The author also says that since Shahid told him, I love to think that I’ll meet my mother in the afterlife if there is an afterlife. ” Finally, he died peacefully in his sleep, at 2.0 a.m on 8 December.
The author concludes that in Shahid’s absence, he is extremely amazed because their brief friendship has resulted in so vast a avoid. The author also says that he remembers him every time whenever he walks into his living room especially on the night when he read them his adieu to the world: “I Dream I Am at the Ghat of the Only World… “
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