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The first time that Agha Shahid Ali spoke to me about his approaching death was on 25 April 2001. The conversation began routinely. I had telephoned to remind him that we had been invited to a friend’s house for lunch. Although he had been under treatment for cancer for some fourteen months, Shahid was still on his feet and perfectly lucid, except for occasional lapses of memory. I heard him thumbing through his engagement book and then suddenly he said: ‘Oh dear. I can’t see a thing.’ There was a brief pause and then he added: ‘I hope this doesn’t mean that I’m dying...’ I did not know how to respond: his voice was completely at odds with the content of what he had just said, light to the point of jocularity. I mumbled something innocuous: ‘No Shahid — of course not. You’ll be fine.’ He cut me short. In a tone of voice that was at once quizzical and direct, he said: ‘When it happens I hope you’ll write something about me.’ I was shocked into silence and a long moment passed before I could bring myself to say the things that people say on such occasions. ‘Shahid you’ll be fine; you have to be strong...’ From the window of my study I could see a corner of the building in which he lived, some eight blocks away. It was just a few months since he moved there: he had been living a few miles away, in Manhattan, when he had a sudden blackout in February 2000. After tests revealed that he had a malignant brain tumour, he decided to move to Brooklyn, to be close to his youngest sister, Sameetah, who teaches at the Pratt Institute—a few blocks away from the street where I live. Shahid ignored my reassurances. He began to laugh and it was then that I realised that he was dead serious. I understood that he was entrusting me with a quite specific charge: he wanted me to remember him not through the spoken recitatives of memory and friendship, but through the written word. He knew that my instincts would have led me to search for reasons to avoid writing about his death: I would have told myself that I was not a poet; that our friendship was of recent date; that there were many others who knew him much better and would be writing from greater understanding and knowledge. All this Shahid had guessed and he had decided to shut off those routes while there was still time. ‘You must write about me.’ Finally, I said: ‘Shahid, I will: I’ll do the best I can.’

1)

What did Shahid request the narrator to do?

SSC CGL 2020
A)

Write about him after his death

B)

Take him along for lunch at their friend’s place

C)

Move to his house in Manhattan

D)

Be strong and bear the loss bravely

2)

Shahid was perfectly ‘lucid’. This suggests he was:

SSC CGL 2020
A)

confused

B)

in a delirium

C)

speaking coherently

D)

not intelligible

3)

Shahid’s voice was full of ‘jocularity’. This means it was:

SSC CGL 2020
A)

humorous

B)

bitter

C)

melodious

D)

sorrowful

4)

Which of these was NOT an excuse that the narrator thought of to decline Shahid’s request?

SSC CGL 2020
A)

That others knew Shahid better

B)

That their friendship was quite recent

C)

That he was too busy

D)

That he was not a poet

5)

Why had the narrator called Shahid Ali?

SSC CGL 2020
A)

To remind him about a lunch invitation

B)

To cheer him up in his depression

C)

To enquire about his health

D)

To give him an important task

6)

Shahid had moved to Brooklyn to:

SSC CGL 2020
A)

get treatment for cancer

B)

fulfil certain engagements

C)

teach at Pratt Institute

D)

be close to his youngest sister

7)

The narrator was reluctant to write about Shahid because:

SSC CGL 2020
A)

the subject did not interest him

B)

he didn’t have enough time

C)

he wouldn’t be paid for it

D)

it would be emotionally tough for him

8)

What made Shahid think his end was near?

SSC CGL 2020
A)

He was unable to think clearly.

B)

He suddenly couldn’t see anything.

C)

He was unable to stand on his feet.

D)

He couldn’t utter a word.

9)

What kind of person was Shahid Ali?

SSC CGL 2020
A)

Forgetful

B)

Full of life

C)

Dangerous

D)

Depressed

10)

What disease was Shahid Ali suffering from?

SSC CGL 2020
A)

Brain tumour

B)

Blood cancer

C)

Loss of memory

D)

Blindness

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