Rehabilitation Poem by Shankha Ghosh Summary, Notes and Line by Line Explanation in English for Students


The poem “Rehabilitation” was written by Shankha Ghosh. Through this poem, the poet talks about the aftermath of partition of India. This poem explores the pain of leaving their own home and moving towards the other side like a refugee.

About the Poet:

Shankha Ghosh was a poet and literary critic. His writings reshaped Bengali literature. He is one of the most influential poets of Bengal literature. He has taught at many educational institutions.


The poet Shankha Ghosh has written the poem  “Rehabilitation” in the form of a free verse. So, it does not follow a certain rhyme scheme or metre. The poem is divided into three stanzas. Each stanzas talk about the circumstances of India before and after partition.Each stanza consists of short lines. At most lines, one word is used to set the tone of the poem.

Poem Analysis:

Stanza 1:

Lines 1-8:

Whatever I had around me

Grass and pebbles 


Broken temples 

Whatever was around me



Solitary sunset

The speaker of the poem is a person who has lost everything in the partition. The information regarding the speaker’s gender and religion is not mentioned here. After the partition he could only visualise grass and stones, reptiles crawling on the ground and the broken temples. He could see his own land from the other side. He feels like a lonely sun setting near the west.

Lines 9-17:

Whatever was around me


Arrows and spears 

A homestead 

All shiver with their faces turned west. 

Memories are like a serpentine crowd 

Under the mango trees, broken boxes 

One step denying another

And suddenly all are homeless.

The speaker could see only landslides, arrows and spears. Here, the terms “arrows”, “spears” indicate the bloodshed of people. He feels like a refugee who is taking a long jojourney.e has only a broken box under a mango tree. All of a sudden everything got changed in the speaker’s life. The speaker lost his own house and now becomes a homeless person.

Stanza 2:

Lines 18-25:

Whatever is around me

Sealdah station

High noon

Pockmarked walls 

Whatever is around me

Blind alleys 


The Monument

In this stanza the speaker describes the things he has in the present scenario. Now, the speaker has moved from his own country side to the other side. Now he is standing in the Sealdah station near some tattooed walls of someone from Kolkata. The speaker could hear the political slogans around him. The tall monuments of the city added to his mental suffering of loneliness.

Lines 26-35:

Whatever is around me 

The bed of arrows 


The Ganges flowing red 

The bones and the darkness within 

Surround them all 

Inside a tune plays on 

The Howrah Bridge is holding up high 

The void 

Under my feet drifts Time.

The speaker who has travelled like a refugee to this new place is talking about his life condition. He says that he is sleeping under the lamp post near the Ganges river. This river flows red symbolises the bloodshed of people for the partition. The phrase “darkness within” indicates the inhuman act of people who killed other people in the name of religion. He feels that the Howrah bridge is indicating the death of people for partition. The Howrah bridge is a symbol of religion, which stands high.

Stanza 3:

Lines 36-43:

Whatever is fountain around me 

Flying hair 

Naked path 

The stormy torch 

Whatever is transparent around me 

The sound of the dawn 

The body after a bath 

The Shiva of the cremation ground

In this stanza, the speaker describes the situation around him. He could find the flying hairs of the dead bodies. The people with torch in hand to find people to kill. The inhuman nature and thirsty to kill the other men makes them to find person who were left behind to kill. In the following lines, the speaker is describing the things that are transparent in his mind. He describes the soothing sound of dawn,an idol of Shiva. With these lines, “The Shiva of the cremation ground”, the readers gets to know that the speaker is a hindu.

Lines 44-52:

Whatever is death around me

Each day 

A thousand days

A birthday 

All return in the palms of memory 

As the beggar who sits in the fading dusk 

What was and what remains, 

Two flintstones that scrape each other 

And ignite my daily rehabilitation.

The speaker describes that he is seeing only the death of his own people around him. On each day, he can see thousands of people being killed in the name of religion. The speaker who lived happily on the other side of the country has now turned into a beggar.He is sitting in the pavement of the streets like a homeless person. In the following lines the two stones are compared to the before and after situation of the partition. He has nothing left now, but he is living with the memories of his past life.