Q.1. When and where did Agha Shahid Ali talk of his death?
Ans. Agha Shahid Ali spoke to the narrator about his approaching death on 25 April 2001. The narrator telephoned that he was coming to his apartment to pick him up. They had to go to a friend’s house for lunch. Although they had talked a great deal over the last many weeks, Shahid never touched upon the subject of death.
Q.2. How do Shahid and the writer react to the knowledge that Shahid is going to die?
Ans. Shahid at first, was really tensed but immediately revealed from that and asked Amitav Ghosh to write about him after his death. The writer was in bit of shock and didn’t understand how to respond to the situation. Later he told the traditional words “nothing will happen to you. You will be fine”.
Q.3. What request did Shahid make to the narrator and what did he say to Shahid?
Ans. The narrator tried to console Shahid that he would be fine again. Shahid ignored his assurance and cut him short. He requested the narrator to write something after his death. The narrator was shocked into silence. But Shahid insisted on extracting a promise. The narrator finally promised to write something after his death.
Q.4. What common interests did the narrator share with Shahid Ali?
Ans. Love for poetry and literature bound the narrator with Shahid. His work “The country Without a Post Office” made a deep impression on the narrator. They had common friends in Delhi as well as in America. Love for rogan josh, Roshanara Begam and Kishore Kumar further cemented their friendship. Both of them were found of Bombay films and had a mutual indifference of Cricket.
Q.5. “Shahid’s gregariousness had no limit” Explain?
Ans. Shahid was a socially active person. There was never an evening when there was not a party in his living room. There were always some half dozen or more people gathered inside. They included poets, students, writers and relatives. Someone would always be cooking or making tea in the kitchen. Even when he was diagnosed with brain tumor, he had decided to celebrate rest of his life jubilantly in the company of his friends and relatives.
Q.6. Give an example to show Shahid’s sharpness in repartee.
Ans. Shahid was quite witty. Once a lady security guard at Barcelona airport stopped him. She asked what he was doing in Spain. “writing poetry” he said. Finally the woman asked if he was carrying anything that could be dangerous to the other passengers. Shahid clapped a hand to his chest and cried; “only my heart.”
Q.7. Give an example to show Agha Shahid Ali’s secular credentials.
Ans. Shahid was secular in his outlook. He remained a firm believer in the separation of religion and politics. His outlook was all inclusive. In his childhood he wanted to create a small Hindu temple in his room in Srinagar. His mother bought him the idols and other things. He hated fanaticism.
Q.8. What did Amitav feel like when he was asked to write about Shahid?
Ans. Amitav was spellbound for a while. He could think of nothing to say. He didn’t get the words in which one promises a friend that one will write about him after his death.
Q.9. What do you know about Shahid as a poet?
Ans. Shahid’s most celebrated work is The Country without a Post Office, published in 1997. The Country Without a Post Office, had made a powerful impression on his readers. His voice was unique – at once lyrical and fiercely disciplined. His was a voice that was not ashamed to speak in a bardic register.
Q.10. What fed and strengthened their friendship?
Ans. The things which were common in them like love towards rogan josh, common indifference towards cricket, etc. Also, Shahid's shifting in Brooklyn further helped them making regular visits to each other that flourished their friendship.
Q.11. Shahid had a sorcerer’s ability to transmute/change the mundane/ordinary into the magical. What incident does the author quote to explain this?
Ans. It is quite true Shahid had a sorcerer's ability to transmute the mundane into magical. This expression means Shahid could make an ordinary thing quite extraordinary. The author noticed this ability when once he along with his family members went to the hospital to fetch him home. As an orderly came to help him with a wheel chair, he began talking to the orderly amicably without paying much condition to his weak health and asked him from where he was. On knowing that the orderly was from Ecuador, he exclaimed energetically that he had always desired to read Lorca.
Q.12. What impressions of Shahid do you gather from the piece?
Ans. Shahid Ali was a multi-faceted personality and appears to be a sensitive soul. He was born in Srinagar and had studied in Delhi. Later, he migrated to America and served in various colleges and universities. Shahid was a fine scholar and a brilliant teacher. His students loved and respected him. Shahid was a profound lover of good poetry, music, clothes and food. He always thought of Kashmir and was hurt by the mounting violence in the valley. Though he was not a political poet, his finest work relates to writing about Kashmir. Shahid's outlook was ecumenical. He did not believe in mixing of politics and religion. He never lost the courage in the face of misfortune. Even dreadful disease of cancer could not break his spirit. He refused to take the help of the wheelchair in the hospital.
Q.13. Look up the dictionary for the meaning of the word ‘diaspora’. What do you understand of the Indian diaspora from this piece?
Ans. The word ‘diaspora’ means a dispersion of an originally homogeneous entity, such as a language or culture. With reference to the context, Indian diaspora becomes more prominent in Ghosh’s writings. The word ‘diaspora’ means a dispersion of an originally homogeneous entity, such as a language or culture.
From this text, we come to know that a number of Indians have settled in different countries of the West, especially England and America. Agha Shahid, his brother and two sisters, Suketu Mehta and the writer form part of the Indian diaspora in America. Shahid belonged to Kashmir and migrated to America in 1975. His elder brother was already settled there. His two sisters also joined them later. These people, though living in another land, never forgot about their roots. These Indians feel a sense of unity and keep meeting each other on various occasions.