The Ghat of the Only World by Amitav Ghosh - Class 11

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Meenu Sethi
7 months ago


Welcome to English Chatterbox! Today we are going to go over the summary of the Ghat of the Only World. This story has a very sad feel to it. On the one hand we have Shahid Ali who was about to die, and he wants Amitav Ghosh to write about him. The story starts like this that they both are talking on the phone and Shahid Ali tells him because he has a sudden blackout so he tells him that he must write about him. Because he knew that he was going to die, and he always believed that the written word lasts longer than the spoken or the verbally said words. So, he wanted his friend to write. Now Amitav Ghosh is quite pained and he wants to avoid the idea of writing about Shahid Ali. What happens is if someone has died and you write about that person, you mentally relive each and every moment that would have passed between you guys. So, it becomes very painful to write about them and he wants to avoid that, he wants to run away from that situation, but Shahid Ali cuts all his escape routes and told him that he must write.

So Amitav Ghosh from that day decided to take down notes about whatever interaction they would have he wrote it down so that he wouldn't forget what all has happened or what all conversations they had had during the period then only he could possibly write a complete account.

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In this story Amitav Ghosh is actually recounting all the incidences and giving us a lot of information about Shahid Ali. He tells us that he had actually read Shahid’s work prior to meeting him also. He said his style of writing was quite lyrical, quite disciplined and he wrote in bardic style. Bardic style means you write poems which have heroism, a lot of enthusiasm in it, it’s very heroic stuff. So, that’s the kind of poem he used to write.

Shahid Ali and Amitav Ghosh’s study time in Delhi University also overlapped. Actually, they both were present at Delhi University at the same time though they did not meet at that time. even though they had common friends they did not actually meet at that time. It's only when Shahid Ali moved to Brooklyn they got to know each other and they realised that they have a lot of common things between them like they both loved to eat rogan josh, they both love to hear the songs of Roshanara Begum and Kishore Kumar, and they both hated cricket which became one of the common points and once they realised that they actually had a lot of common things between them, they came up with an idea to have an adda. An adda is like a point of meeting where they can talk and chat and call the other friends also and have a good time. In their Adda it was almost the time of festivity at all time. There was the fragrance of food ,the aroma was spreading everywhere and even in foreign soil one could feel one has entered another continent because of the fragrances that were everywhere and Shahid Ali was very watchful of the food that was being cooked and there was always food being cooked in his kitchen and he used to tell from the fragrance of the food to what extent it has been cooked, what is to be added to it to make it good. He also had a very unique desire and in fact he had a threat of the fact that Kashmiri food which is cooked in pandit style might lose its existence with time which is why he made sure that it was cooked in that style. He was not a two minutes noodle type of guy. He really wanted the food to be cooked elaborately, to be cooked at peace, in a very slow manner. He was a very jovial type of guy because once a TV crew came to his house i.e. his adda, he was more than happy to have them. He wasn’t one of those kinds who would close the doors on them or get irritate because he has been disturbed or something, he was happy to have them.

In fact, an incident at Barcelona airport actually shows that is guy was very friendly. It so happened that one of the security people had stopped him and had repeatedly questioned Shahid and his ability to reply and his wit was terrific. So, the woman asked him who was interrogating him asked him that what was his profession, so he said that he was a poet and the woman asked what was he doing in Barcelona, he said that he was writing poetry. And one after another he kept giving answers like these and finally that woman got irritate and said, you just tell me this, do you carry anything with you which can harm the other passengers? He said, “My heart”. That was hilarious. In fact he even wrote a poem on it.

He was an amazing teacher also because when he was giving his last lecture then Amitav Ghosh was present there and he realised how well he was liked because a whole magazine was dedicated to him, in fact the whole issue was dedicated to him. In his course of education, he attended various colleges, took courses of creative writing and he was appointed professor in the University of Utah Salt Lake City. Though one tension always persisted in his mind, that is he was very worried about Kashmir. He felt that the condition in Kashmiri was deteriorating, and the consistent curfews were only adding and compounding the problem there. It hurt him as his parents were there and all his brothers and sisters went together to meet the parents every summer, but he felt pained looking at the condition.

Once in his childhood, he told his parents that he wants to make a temple then his parents supported him. Even his mother helped him in making the temple. When he realised, he was going to die, he wished he should go to Kashmir and wished to be buried in Kashmir only and he made his will so that his brothers and sisters would not fight amongst each other. But due to paperwork and other reasons he couldn’t go. And he made his grave right next to Emily Dickson. When he died, he was satisfied that after death he would be able to meet his mother.

He said a poem in his farewell speech “I dream I at the Ghat of my world” In the poem, he wrote he was standing at a place where people are being buried and he used to think that he was standing at some kind of ghat only.

Thank You!

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Meenu Sethi, author of this blog and founder of English ChatterBox

Meenu Sethi

Educator & Mentor

An extremely ambitious workaholic, Mrs. Meenu Sethi has been an educator and mentor for the last 21 years and has now brought her experience & expertise to English ChatterBox. She is both the founder, and the author of this awesome blog.


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