The Shadow Line


The Shadow Line


The shadow line is a highly innovative novel with intertwined facts, fiction and reminiscence. According to Ghosh, the personal lives and public events have been interwoven together to unearth the personal and social history in comparison with the racial riots in India. The book is a shadow of history and death and is about any place that has experienced riots, death, memory and tragedies. Tridib is an extraordinary character who lived a fuller life and guided himself through his creative imaginations (Ghosh 92).

Through his creative imagination, Tridib struggles to overcome the “mystery of difference” (Ghosh 92). The social and cultural differences of human nature vary in different towns and cities. People are not the same everywhere but the differences between them should not breed hatred or violence. He lived his own life in the shadow of the story of Tridib and even desired to be seen as him.

“We could not see without inventing what we saw, so at least we could try to do it properly” Tridib wanted the narrator to interpret reality by use of his imagination. He taught the narrator that in order to understand the differences that exist and make up the world one has to think across the differences and always to be aware of other people inventions (Khair 98). He meant that unless we try to invent things ourselves we will always depend of what others have done. Tridib made the narrator aware that everything that has been invented in the world has real effects and each person interprets inventions on her own critical approach. This means that we should always try to improve the world instead of leaving it the way we found it. Even the narrator was forced to imagine the roofs of Colombo himself and also invented Tridib by imagining him as a small boy thus making us conclude his description as being bespectacled (Ghosh 31).

“One could never know anything except through desire, real desire, which was not the same thing as greed or lust; a pure, painful and primitive desire, a longing for everything that was not in oneself, a torment of the flesh, that carried one beyond the limits of one’s mind to other times and other places, and even, if one was lucky, to a place where there was no border between one self and one’s image in the mirror.” The narrator desired Ila who is like and yet so unlike the narrator (Ghosh 29). The desire does not succeed in this story, since there is always the mystery of differences between them. Nick is also a reflection of what he desired while Ila desires of Nick are only a distorted reflection (Khair 96). Therefore, the desires of the narrator in this story remain a distorted figure. Tridib also meant that the desire to interpret across cultures is made real by the desire to get beyond them (Ghosh 97). Tridib wanted the narrator to interpret the reality by use of his imagination and even though people are rooted in reality they have to look beyond. Even though the narrator lived in Calcutta he travelled the world through the flight of imagination of Tridib (Ghosh 29). His first visit and experiences to London was exactly as narrated by Tridib. He remembered the description clearly from what he was told and was able to exactly locate some mentioned places (Ghosh 29).

“I could not persuade her that a place does not merely exist, that it has to be invented in one’s imagination.” Tridib meant that unfriendly place exists only in the mind of a person while Ila thought a place is just a utility (Ghosh 92).

“Stories are all there are to live in, it was just a question of which one to chose.” Tridib assumes that as an individual, community and nation we have to distinguish the shadow lines that interconnect in our lives (Ghosh 94). He meant that life is simply a matter of choice and through memory and imagination there is exploration of time and place. The narrator lived his own life in the shadow of the story of Tridib and even desire to be seen as him. Tridib insists on the narrator how to construct his own stories through the power of imagination. He act and imagines as Tridib since he completely trusted his narratives. However, we can see that the difference between Ila and the narrator is that she denies inventions to make sense of her world while the narrator recognizes Omnipresence of the stories he was told (Khair 98).


















Works cited

Ghosh, Amitav. The Shadow Lines. Boston [u.a.: Houghton Mifflin, 2007. Print.

Khair, Tabish. Amitav Ghosh: A Critical Companion. Delhi: Permanent Black, 2005. Print.