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Cataloguing the Incarnation of Agony and Technique Used in the Short Stories of K. V. Dominic


Cataloguing the Incarnation of Agony and Technique Used in the Short Stories of K. V. Dominic

Dr. Laxmi Rawat Chauhan

Gurukul Kangri University,

Haridwar, Uttarakhand, India



The short stories written by Dominic are well-known for their realism in depicting different types of suffering. Dominic, an author who works in the English language, conveys a variety of different kinds of sorrow in his short stories. In this study, Dominic's short stories are investigated, and the author's numerous incarnations of anguish are recorded and classed according to their respective categories. In the article, the topics of social injustice, poverty, discrimination against women, and environmental degradation are discussed in relation to his short stories. In addition to this, it investigates the methods that Dominic utilised, such as the utilisation of vivid imagery and symbolic language, in order to illustrate the plight of his characters. The purpose of this study is to provide a comprehensive examination of how the short stories written by K.V. Dominic depict various forms of suffering.

Keywords: Agony, Suffering, Marginalized, Gender discrimination.


K. V. Dominic is a well-known Indian poet, short story writer, critic and editor who works in the English language and has published multiple collections of short stories. The torment and anguish that his character experiences occasionally reflect and provide a glimpse of Thomas Hardy's characters who live in the countryside of Wessex.  The depth to which Professor Dominic's short stories convey the feelings and calamities that befall humans has earned him a well-deserved reputation for excellence. The author does not shy away from confronting some of life's more unsettling aspects, such as poverty, social inequality, gender bias, and the deterioration of the natural environment, in a number of the pieces that he has written. Within the scope of this investigation, we shall look into how the author conveys a wide variety of different sorts of anguish. It is well known that he is a poet and short story writer from India. His literary works are well renowned for the fact that they usually explore topics that are related to politics and social issues. His short stories have gained a particular reputation for the way in which they depict the tribulations endured by a wide range of people, in particular those who are persecuted and frequently marginalised in society. His protagonists commonly come from oppressed or underrepresented groups.

The stories that Dominic tells serve as a potent reminder of the significance of identifying and comprehending the struggles and tribulations that individuals go through on a daily basis, and they serve as a great source of inspiration. Dominic hails from the Indian State of Kerala. His writing has garnered praise from a variety of different literary communities. The representation of pain, both physical and mental, as well as the numerous ways in which people attempt to deal with it, is a recurrent issue in his body of work. His body of work also focuses on the various techniques by which individuals attempt to deal with it. In the collection of short stories penned by K. V. Dominic, we will examine how the author portrays pain, with a special emphasis placed on the manner in which the characters cope with and feel pain.

Various Kinds of Suffering:

In his short story titled "Is Human Life More Precious than Animal's?" Dominic explores the moral question of whether or not the value of a human life is inherently superior to the value of the lives of other creatures. The writer argues that despite the fact that humans are capable of reason and communication, they should not believe that they are superior to other creatures simply because they possess these capacities. He says this because humans tend to view themselves as superior to other animals simply because they can reason and communicate.

A truck dashed the cow and she fell down with a loud scream, limbs trembling violently. The cow died instantly. The vehicles stopped. The owner was weeping, not because of any sympathy to the animal but because of the monetary loss due to its death. The video reporter too expressed no sympathy to the cow or sadness at her death. He commented that had the cow not been killed or just crossed the road safe, the man would have lost his life dashed by the truck. His tone was that of a relief at the man’s life saved. (Sanchita Karma 11)


He maintains that all different kinds of life should be regarded and treasured in the same way, and that all different kinds of living organisms have the right to exist as well as the right to do so. In general, the story conveys the idea that we should have compassion and empathy for all living beings, and that we should work to conserve and safeguard the environment for the benefit of all different kinds of animals. In addition, the essay argues that we should work to protect the environment for the benefit of all living things.

In the story “Who is Responsible?” Rehman, a retired headmaster, and his wife Ramla live a calm existence in Kerala, India. They have two married children and a son named Anwar who works as an electrician in Oman. Ramla has severe arthritis, and their son's absence has left her lonely and in need of help. Anwar unwillingly submits to a planned marriage with the lovely Aisha. Ramla’s suffering knows no end. “Things were going like this with gloom and despair haunting in Rehman’s house. Ramla’s health was declining and she staggered as she walked. Yet she did the cooking in the morning as Aisha always got up late.” (“Who is Responsible?” 11)

However, after Anwar leaves for work, Aisha develops close to Rahul, Anwar's chauffeur. Rumours and suspicions spread across the community, generating stress within the family. Both Aisha and Rahul go missing one day, leaving Rehman concerned and Ramla sad. Ramla's health deteriorates as a result of the stress, and she becomes paralysed. Rehman receives notification that Anwar has been fired and arrested for alleged involvement in terrorist activities.

Rehman, overcome with sadness and despair, considers suicide but is stopped by the female servant, Shahana, who calms him and assures him that his son will be released. Shahana discovers Rehman and Ramla brutally killed in their home the next day. The village is startled by the catastrophe, as the safe containing valuables has been emptied. “Who is to be blamed for the tragedy of Rehman and his family? When thousands of villainous wolves flourish and reign, innocent lambs like Rehman are mercilessly butchered. Where is the poetic justice?” (“Who is Responsible?” 18)

The story concludes with the topic of who is to be blamed for the tragic events that occurred, emphasising the injustice experienced by innocent people like Rehman in a world full with villains.

Exploring the Agonies of Life:

One of the recurring themes throughout Prof. Dominic's collection of short stories is the pain and anguish that are inextricably intertwined with the lives of ordinary people as they go about their day-to-day activities. The pains of life are typified by a sense of unhappiness, disillusionment, and despair, which are frequently induced by the pressures and expectations of society as well as one's own shortcomings. This sense of discontent, disappointment, and despair is frequently developed as a result of personal failings in addition to society constraints and cultural expectations.

One of Dominic's stories, "Old Age Home," stands out as deepest. There is a heartwarming exchange that takes place between two elderly men named Ravi and Jacob, who both live in the same retirement community. Ravi is a retired college professor from Kochi who has been residing in the house for close to ten years. He moved there after retiring. Since he and his wife did not have any children, he is completely alone now that his wife passed away ten years ago and there is no one to take care of him. He has all he needs at home and is pleased and happy there. He also appreciates his pension. Jacob is a farmer who, as the oldest son in his family, was required to assume responsibility for the management of the family's agricultural holdings. “Very glad to hear that you are happy in this home. Though childless a man, you are fortunate in a way when compared to me, a father of three children. I am a farmer by profession…” (“Old Age Home” 107) All three of this man's children went on to become medical professionals and currently reside in the United States. Recently, his wife passed away, and he is having a difficult time coping with the sadness of losing her. Because he was unable to sell his land, his children pleaded with him to move in with them in the United States, but he turned down their offer. The talk is made more difficult by the fact that Jacob is expressing his sorrow about the death of his wife, and Ravi is attempting to console him.

The tragic death of Jacob's wife has compounded the suffering that he has been through. Jacob is utterly heartbroken over the loss of his soul mate after sharing 60 years of togetherness. He is unable to come to terms with the void and the memories that flood his mind, and as a result, he is going through intense pain and suffering. Jacob feels confined and alone at the old age home, despite the fact that his children attempt to provide support for him. However, his children are unable to truly comprehend the extent of his anguish. He has a hard time finding peace and coming to terms with the reality of his predicament, which makes every second he spends apart from his wife intolerable.

The narrative as a whole sheds light on the severe mental anguish that is inflicted upon residents of elderly care facilities by the fact that they are cut off from their families and other loved ones. The anguish comes in the unfulfilled need for friendship, the weight of loneliness, and the challenge of finding meaning and joy in life after experiencing substantial loss. These factors combine to make finding meaning and joy in life extremely challenging.

Yes they all came for the burial and after fifteen days with me they went back leaving me here. They asked me to accompany them. But I said that I can’t leave my house and land. I told them that I would stay here alone and the maid would come every day to cook food for me. But they were not willing to leave me alone. Who is there to care if anything happens to me in night? (“Old Age Home” 108)

This worry of Jocob's children actually comes true in the end when Jocob is found dead in the morning by one of the employees of the old age home...but according to the account of his children, he was not alone when he died!

The story “Aren’t they our Sisters?” revolves around Rajesh, the main character, and he is the one who goes to Kamathipura, which is a red light district in Mumbai, and meets a sex worker there. Because of her history with other men who have lied to her and taken advantage of her and her friends, the sex worker is sceptical of Rajesh's intentions to rescue her from a life of prostitution and remove her dependence on prostitution. “Trust men? I am here since I trusted a man I loved most. Don’t waste your time. You may go. Here is your money.” (“Aren’t they our Sisters?” 41)   However, Rajesh emphasises that he has a tremendous respect for individuals like her because he is the son of a sex worker himself. This shows that Rajesh has great respect for people like her. The sex worker is still cautious to trust him despite the fact that he pledges to give her a route out of her predicament by providing her with a job and a home in Kochi. The narrative sheds light on the seedy underbelly of modern society as well as the fate of sex workers, who are frequently forced to remain in the industry due to their precarious financial situations and limited career opportunities. “He was beckoned by many ladies standing in front of their doors and windows. ‘Though beautified by lipstick and powder some appeared young in the twenties while others in the thirties and even forties” (“Aren’t they our Sisters?” 40). In addition to this, it demonstrates the significance of trust, empathy, and compassion in the process of developing connections and assisting those who are in need. “Stella in her vote of thanks expressed deep gratitude to Rajesh and his mother Radhadevi for saving them from downing in the ocean of grief.” (“Aren’t they our Sisters?” 46).

Techniques Employed by Dominic

In order to convey the mental suffering that his characters go through in an accurate manner, Dominic employs a wide array of techniques in his writing. Through the use of vivid imagery and symbolic language in his writing, he is able to make a major impression on his audience. In these works, he has employed several literary devices in a very competent and effective manner:

The subject of karma, and more especially the concept of sanchita karma, which refers to the cumulative actions of earlier incarnations that influence our present circumstances, are investigated in the short novel "Sanchita Karma". The entirety of this narrative contains a great deal of meaningful symbolism throughout. This is a story about karma and reincarnation, both of which are discussed throughout the narrative. The tale recounts of a bunch of cats who were poisoned to death by their neighbour, a guy named Stephen, and his wife, Stella, because they were unhappy with the presence of the cats in their complex. The cats had been there for some time. In their subsequent lives, the cats are reborn as mice and find themselves the prey of the same seven cats that were once their companions in the previous birth. When the mice inquire as to the reason behind the cats' pursuit, they are informed that the cats are the reincarnated souls of the seven cats that the mice were responsible for killing in their previous existence. The cats say that the reason the mice cannot remember their previous lives is because the mice's religion did not teach them about reincarnation when they were younger. The cats then transport the mice back in time to their previous existence and reveal to them that they were actually Stephen and Stella, who were the ones who had poisoned the cats since they did not like their presence in their colony. “We never wanted to do so, but the Almighty orders us to dispatch you. It’s nothing but Sanchita Karma. My children finish them now,” Preethi ordered and in few minutes the mice were killed and eaten.” (“Sanchita Karma” 75)

The tale focuses an emphasis on the concept that each person is responsible for their own actions and that those actions have ramifications that extend beyond their own lifetimes. This theme is connected to the idea that each person's actions have consequences that extend beyond their own lifetimes. In addition to this, it highlights the relevance of self-reflection and the pursuit of personal development as a method for influencing the course of our future. In general, "Sanchita Karma" is a thought-provoking story that analyses the intricate concept of karma and challenges readers to reflect on their own deeds and the impact those actions have on their present and future circumstances.

Dominic examines the complicated feelings and events that people go through in the course of their everyday lives via the lens of the characters he creates in each of these short stories. His work shines light on the challenges and hurdles that are frequently ignored or missed in mainstream literature, and he accomplishes this by putting light on the struggles and obstacles themselves. His writing brings attention to the difficulties and issues that are typically neglected or overlooked in mainstream literature.

The plot of the story “Nature Teaches” revolves around a meeting of a local council. At the meeting, the councillors discuss the possibility of building a shopping centre on an empty parcel of land. However, there is a large fig tree on the roadway in front of the property, which functions not only as a place for people to wait for the bus but also as a place for people and animals to take shelter. Even though there are some councillors who are against cutting down the tree, the bulk of them vote in favour of the building. The other birds and animals who make their home in the fig tree are given fair warning by a crow that is present and listening in on the conversation between the councillors.   “A squirrel listening to the talks of the birds then said, “I support your views dear friends. We can defeat man’s attempt of cutting this tree fighting unitedly.” (“Nature Teaches” 21)

They come to the conclusion that they must put up a battle to prevent the man from cutting down the tree and depriving them of their food and shelter. When the construction company arrived to cut down the tree, they were confronted by a group of people who were passionate about nature and questioned the activities that were being taken. The author also emphasises the numerous ways in which animals contribute to the health of the ecosystem, as well as the value of keeping the surroundings in which these species reside. In addition, the author highlights the need of protecting the ecosystems in which these species are found.

It is possible to assert that the collection of short stories that Prof. Dominic has written is a great example of something that has stood the test of time. His stories probe the harsh facts of living while shedding light on many issues. Dominic makes use of a variety of literary methods in his writing, such as vivid imagery, symbolism, and sarcasm, with the hopes of leaving a major impact on the readers of his work. His stories, in general, serve as a reflection of the society in which we live and inspire us to become engaged and make a change in the world. They also operate as a mirror in which we may see ourselves.

            Prof. Dominic possesses a more profound awareness of the culture of the country, and through his life experiences, he has produced substantial contributions to the literary canon of India. Because of the exceptional manner in which they portray the challenges of life that are suffered by regular people, his short stories stand out among the many other works he has produced due to the fact that he has written so many of them. K.V. Dominic illustrates the difficulties and challenges that people face in real life by using the points of view of his characters and the issues that he investigates in his short stories.


The short stories penned by K. V. Dominic offer a profound and nuanced portrayal of pain in all of its guises, from the physiological to the psychological. His stories cover a wide range of methods, including denial, withdrawal, resilience, and defiance, all of which are employed by the author in protagonists in his stories to deal with the pain and anguish they are experiencing. The stories also shed light on the social and economic factors, such as poverty and inequality, that contribute to the exacerbation of pain and suffering throughout the world and bring these factors to our attention. In general, Dominic's short stories are interesting and thought-provoking. Dominic offers a powerful and insightful study on the human experience of pain as well as the various ways in which we can find consolation in the face of it.


Works Cited

Dominic, K. V. “Is Human Life Precious than Animals?” Sanchita Karma and Other Tales of Ethics and Choice from India. By Dominic, Ann Arbor, USA: Modern History Press, 2018, pp. 11-16.

---. “Old Age Home.” Writers Editors Critics, vol.13, no. 1 March 2023, pp. 106-109.

---. “Sanchita Karma.” Sanchita Karma and Other Tales of Ethics and Choice from India. By Dominic, Ann Arbor, USA: Modern History Press, 2018, pp. 73-76.

---. “Who is Responsible?” Who is Responsible? A Collection of Short Stories.  By Dominic. New Delhi: Authorspress, 2016, pp. 11-18.

Dominic, Prof. K. V. “Aren’t they our Sisters?” Short Stories during Covid-19. By Dominic, New Delhi: Authorspress, 2022, pp. 39-46.

---. “Nature Teaches.” Short Stories during Covid-19. By Dominic, New Delhi: Authorspress, 2022, pp. 19-23