The Ghat of the Only World Summary. The Ghat of the Only World chapter is written by Amitav Ghosh. This chapter is written by the author in memory of his late friend Agha Shahid Ali. Agha Shahid Ali was also a writer of ‘The Country Without a Post Office’. He passed away due to cancer but he made his friend Amitav promise that he should write about him after he passes away.
The Ghat of the Only World Summary: Introduction
The chapter starts with the writer’s friend Agha Shahid Ali. Agha Shahid Ali had a terminal illness and thus his death was approaching. Although he had cancer for some fourteen months till then he had could stand firmly. He just had some occasional lapses of memory.
Their conversation about Shahid’s death
On 25 April 2001, the writer called Shahid to remind him to visit their friend’s house as both of them were invited for lunch. On the call, Amitav, the writer heard his friend go through the pages of the engagement book. Shahid suddenly exclaimed that he could not see a thing and wondered if he was dying. The narrator just did not know how to respond as even though Shahid and he talked about cancer, Shahid never brought up death. Amitav mumbled as soon as he could and said that he would be just fine. Then Shahid cut him short and told the narrator that he hoped the narrator would write something about him.
Amitav was shocked into silence and after a long moment he told Shahid to stay strong and assured him that every thing would be fine. Both of them lived in Brooklyn. Amitav lived eight blocks away from Shahid and could see a corner of his building. Shahid came to know about his malignant brain tumour in February 2000. At that time he was living in Manhattan after results came out he moved to Brooklyn to be with his youngest sister Sameetah, who taught at the Pratt Institute.
The Ghat of the Only World Summary: The promise
Shahid then ignored Amitav reassurances and he was very serious. But, he did not want his memory to be passed as a form of spoken recitative. Instead he wanted his memories to be written down. Shahid knew that real relationship blossomed after writers wrote about their relationships. Shahid thus without any hesitation told Amitav to write about him once again. Amitav replied that he would do the best he could.
Friendship between Amitav and Shahid
Just after the conversation ended Amitav picked up the pen and noted the date and wrote down the conversation. He did this for the next few months. Shahid was also a writer. He wrote ‘The Country Without a Post Office’. The narrator respected him a lot. Shahid was from Srinagar and had studied in Delhi. Amitav also studied at Delhi University. They did not meet each other during that time. But they had mutual friends. It was during 1998 and 1999 that they had conversations on the phone and also met a couple of times. But they became close only after Shahid moved to Brooklyn. Once both of them started living in the same neighbourhood they began to meet for occasional meals and bonded closely. But, by this time Shahid’s condition was really serious. But his illness did not become a barrier to their friendship.
Suketu Mehta was a writer who joined both of them for lunch once. They together spent some time. Shahid was enthusiastic for it and they began to meet regularly. From time to time other writers also joined them. Amitav felt that Shahid had a sorcerer’s ability.
The visit to the hospital
On May 21, Amitav accompanied some of Shahid’s relatives to the hospital. By then Shahid had he had already been through several unsuccessful operations. A hospital worker arrived with a wheelchair. But Shahid sent him back. He felt that he did not need it and could standon his own feet. But after a few steps, his knees buckled. The hospital worker rushed to him at once with the wheel chair.
Shahid was an extrovert and he loved meeting people, going out with them and partying. He could not give his time being depressed. He lived on the seventh floor and always wanted to go up all by himself. His apartment had the fragrance of Rogan josh and songs to welcome the people who visited him. He would open the doors and welcome them by clapping his hands joyously. Shahid had a lot of visitors ranging from his students to his colleagues and even his relatives. He loved talking to them even though his health was deteriorating. He loved to enjoy life by talking, eating and enjoying poetry. Shahid was also very interested in the kitchen. James Merrill was the one who greatly influenced his love for poetry.
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Shahid was not too religious. He did not like it when the Pandits left Kashmir, he expressed this feeling of guilt in his poetry too. Shahid loved Bengali food too. He also loved Begum Akhtar’s poetry. Once when he was at the Barcelona airport, the security guard asked him if he carried anything dangerous that could hurt the other passengers. He replied that it was his heart.
Shahid’s personal life
He was quite a popular teacher and he had taught at several colleges and universities. Shahid began his teaching career at 1999. Shahid’s parents lived in India while he lived in America with his siblings. When he was a child he created a small Hindu temple in his room in Srinagar. His parents never scolded him for this. He was not a political poet. He loved his art of language.
On 4th of May, he visited the hospital to test if the chemotherapy helped him or not. The next day he told Amitav that he no longer had hope and that he would stop taking his medicines as they did not produce the desired effect. He decided to go back to Srinagar and live with his father and die there. But later he changed his mind. He passed away peacefully in his sleep at 2 pm on 8th December in the United States and was rested in Northampton.
The Ghat of the Only World Summary: Questions and Answers
What impressions of Shahid do you gather from the piece?
Shahid Ali had an amazing personality and appears to be a sensitive person. He was born in Srinagar and studied in Delhi. Later, he migrated to America and was a teacher in various colleges and universities there. Shahid loved of poetry, music, partying and food. He was not a political poet. His finest work relates to writing about Kashmir. He wrote ‘The Country Without a Post Office’ that touched the narrator. He passed away due to cancer on 8 December, 2001.
How do Shahid and the writer react to the knowledge that Shahid is going to die?
Shahid knew that he would not live long but still he never lost hope and was carefree. The narrator was shocked when Shahid told him that he might die soon. Shahid then insisted Amitav to write a piece on him. Amitav kept that promise and made Shahid’s memory eternal.
The Ghat of the Only World Summary: Conclusion
The Ghat of the Only World shows us the commitment of a friend who loved his friend a lot. It shows us that Shahid was an amazing person with good morals and their friendship meant a lot to the author.