It is a serious story about friendship and commitment one friend has to fulfill after one friend’s death. The story is about friendship between the writer Amitav Ghosh and the poet Agha Shahid Ali. Though they met not so long before, but their bonding seems as they are friends since childhood. Some friendships may not last long but the impact they cast on one another may transcend all worldly barriers.
Shahid Ali and Amitav both live in neighborhood in Manhattan, USA. Though Amitav knows Shahid since his college days, as both were students in Delhi University, but their friendship occurred a few months ago through a common friend. Shahid is a powerful poet from the land of Kashmir, his collection of poems The Country Without a Post Office (published in 1997) have had a deep impact on Amitav. Once Amitav used a line or two from his collection in an article for newspaper.
It is 25 April 2001 that Shahid confirms the news of his impending death due to brain tumor. In that meeting Shahid urges Amitav to write a story on him after his death. Amitav agrees to do that and after that whenever he meets Shahid, Amitav takes notes in a notebook.
Amitav describes that Shahid being a Kashmiri was a different kind of person. He wasn’t a religious fanatic; instead he built a small temple in his house. Not only this, Shahid and Amitav had many things in common, for instance cooking and some peculiar non-veg dishes. Though Shahid lives in USA but his heart resides in Kashmir where his parents live. He used to go there in summer to spend time with his parents. His wished to be dead in his homeland i.e. Kashmir. He seemed firm on it but later as it takes a lot of formalities and paperback, he gives up the idea of moving to Kashmir to spend his last days.
He expresses that he sees in his sleep and imagination that he is flying over the Ghat of the Only World i.e. Kashmir.
After Shahid’s death, Amitav feels that their friendship lasted briefly but its impact was vast and somewhere deep down in his heart it makes him void.
In the story, The Ghat of the Only World represents Shahid’s homeland Kashmir.