Tuesday 31 October 2023

Dr. S. Barath's Interview with K. V. Dominic


Conversation with Dr. K. V. Dominic

Dr. S. Barathi

(Published originally in the book A Conversation with Contemporary Indian English Poets, edited by Dr. S. Barathi and published by Book Leaf Publishing, September 2023, pp. 67-84.)


1. Barathi: Greetings to you sir! First of all let me congratulate you on your fifth collection of poems. Sir, I have a few questions to ask you about your recent works. First, the Anthology Cataracts of Compassion has won a wide acclaim from the young and the old equally. Could you please share your experiences while writing the collection?

Dr. K. V. Dominic: Greetings and thanks dear Dr. Barathi! What you have stated is true. Cataracts of Compassion has been appreciated by many readers and critics. I have been very particular in avoiding repetition of subjects and topics in my poetry. As a social critic, some burning issues and themes had to be dealt with again and again in each anthology. Cataracts of Compassion has thirty four poems and the very first poem “Enlighten Us Lord Buddha” in ten sections has blessed the collection, I hope. Spirituality, Nature, environmental issues, poverty, problems of women, relation between humans and non humans, influence of scientific growth on society, role models in society, freedom of expression, terrorism, equality, etc. are the themes touched in this collection. Through these poems I have been trying to portray the contemporary issues as well as eternal values. As a poet I am growing and that might be another reason why this latest collection becomes more appealing.

2. Barathi: Personally, I appreciate more your Haiku in the anthology. They cover various aspects of life right from eco-consciousness to socialism. They leave a deep impact on the mind of the readers. It is also interesting to find that these poems have evoked a wide range of emotion especially among the young readers and they feel highly motivated to strive for the betterment of the society. What do you feel about this sir?

Dr. K. V. Dominic: In fact those triplets you have mentioned are not haiku in the strict sense. Instead of the haiku syllabic pattern of 5-7-5 I have used syllables of varied length. Haiku, a Japanese originated poetic form has Nature as its theme. I have used not only themes of nature but also social, environmental and philosophical issues. I have given the title to this group of poems as “Triplets of Wisdom”. Wonderful ideas and messages and values could be imparted through these triplets. That is the beauty of these micro verses.  

3. Barathi: Sir, as I had been associated with you since 2010, I understand that you are a great humanist. How has it been possible for you?

Dr. K. V. Dominic: Being a human I ought to be a humanist. That’s what the Creator expects from human beings. The rationality naturally tends man to act as a humanist. This element of humanism is inherent in all human beings. To be a humanist doesn’t need any belief in religion or superstitions. A theist as well as an atheist can very well feel that this planet earth is mother to all its inhabitants. So it is quite natural that one will have a fellow feeling to other human beings and non human beings. One will be forced to consider others and feel sad and agitated when the necessities and comforts one enjoy is denied to others.    

4. Barathi: Your compassion is quite oblivious to the readers through many of your poems like “Cow on the Lane”, “Crow the Black beauty”, etc. But what is particularly interesting is your poems on cats like “Ammini’s Lament”, “Poppy”, etc. which demonstrate a very strong emotion. It appears as if you have a great fancy for your pet cats as they appear in many of your anthologies. But there is a pestering question I would like to ask you. Why didn’t you have written any poems on Dogs so far? Is it that you are prejudiced?

Dr. K. V. Dominic: To be frank, when I composed poems on cats they were in our house just like our family members. Unfortunately I did not have a pet dog at that time. Now I have one, named Rockey, a pomeranian white. Unlike dogs which are chained or locked in kennel, cats can’t be jailed in our house or compound. Naturally they will go to neighbour’s compound. Most of my cat poems are tragic because of the brutality of my neighbours. As Shelley says, our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thoughts, the tragic ends to my pet cats had to be composed into poems as revenge to my cruel neighbors who could not be punished legally or socially. I have composed poems on dogs, not on my own pets, but on the plight of stray dogs as well as another on the love of dog to its dead master.   

5. Barathi: Your books are internationally acclaimed and many of the books published provide the readers an entirely difference in thought. Especially the one in collaboration with Dr Ramesh Chandra Mukhopadhyaya. How does it occur to you?

Dr. K. V. Dominic: I follow a style of my own. Simplicity and clarity in expression, telling things in a direct manner, use of free verse and more narrative poetry, innumerable varieties of topics and themes, every poem bears a message or value—these are my characteristic styles which attract the readers. I don’t want the readers to be quibbled or confused with mind-blowing expressions or unnecessary imagery. Another striking point of my poetry is that I have touched some issues and topics which very few poets have done. Dr. Ramesh Chandra Mukhopadhyaya is the best critic and interpreter of my poetry. His critical approach is entirely different from other critics. He being a great philosopher is able to go deep into the philosophical aspects of my poetry and interpret them in comparison with Western and Eastern philosophies as well as classics in world literature.

6. Barathi: Coming to the other aspects of your poems, it has been found that you write more of free verse. Is there any specific reason for selecting free verse? And your poems unlike some of your contemporaries lack imagery. Another aspect is at times the poems sound too prosaic. Is there any purpose behind this, sir?

Dr. K. V. Dominic: To me poetry is not just an expression of emotion but a medium to impart great values and messages to the society. So the aspect of reason is more in my poetry than imagination. When reason is expressed with very little imagination the style becomes prosaic. I have used only free verse and tried to express things in a direct manner. If a message or value can be imparted directly without any imagery why should one harass the readers who have little time to read in this busy, materialistic world? It is a fact that reading habit is diminishing due to the influence of visual media and internet, and if at all people have time to read anything, they will choose fiction, as is the trend of the world. This being the reality, nobody wants to read a poem, particularly if it is long, boring, time killing and obscure. This awareness is behind my writing in simple, direct style.    

7. Barathi: Apart from your poetry collections, you have also published a collection of short stories based on contemporary issues and incidents. It also stresses the importance of humanism and compassion. What I strongly feel is that such stories should be incorporated in the lessons for young adult learners. What is your opinion about this, sir?

Dr. K. V. Dominic: My maiden collection of short stories was published by Authorspress, New Delhi in 2016. My second collection of stories is under print in USA, by Modern History Press. As in my poetry, I have used contemporary issues and topics in my short stories also. They deal with the culture and way of life our country. The burning issues of the nation as well as of the universe are portrayed in these stories. It is purely because of the prejudice of curriculum committee and board of studies in our universities that they do not include poems and short stories of the contemporary living writers in our country. They prescribe still the foreign writers or those dead Indian writers of the last century.  

8. Barathi: Your poetry collections have been translated to Gujarati, Hindi, and a couple of poems into Tamil too. Can you share your views about translating to other languages?

Dr. K. V. Dominic: True, my poetry collections have been translated into Hindi and Gujarati and the books have been published by reputed publishing houses in New Delhi and Ahmedabad. The French translation of poems by the French translator and artist Dominque Demiscault is under print in Paris. Bengali, Tamil and Malayalam translations are going on and the books will come out by next year. The translators have been supplied with my five poetry books in English and they will choose poems for a translated book. It is not verbatim translation they do, but transcreation. I would like to have translations of my poetry into as many languages as possible. I have a mission in my writing and it is to impart great values and messages to as many minds as I can.

9. Barathi: Though Malayalam is your mother tongue, you never seem to write in your language. Is there any specific reason for this?

Dr. K. V. Dominic: To be frank, I have diffidence in writing poems in my mother tongue Malayalam. My vocabulary and usage in Malayalam is not sufficient to create good poems or short stories. Besides, there are innumerable good writers in Malayalam and if I try, I fear, I will lose the good will and reputation I have as an English writer.  

Barathi: Recently you went to Nepal for an International Conference and you have been regularly participating in SAARC literature festivals for many years. Could you elaborate on your experiences in such events?

Dr. K. V. Dominic: I have been fortunate to be invited for the International Conference on Mountain Literature at Pokhara in Nepal. Again I have been invited regularly for the South Asian (SAARC) Literature and Sufi festival in India. Many a times I have been representing the South India as I have been the lone participant from the South. My paper presentations and poems dealing with the culture of the South have been warmly received and appreciated by the other participants.

10. Barathi: You seem to be a socialist but when reading some poems it shows Marxist-communist leanings. What is your stand on this, sir?

Dr. K. V. Dominic: I am a socialist, not a Communist Marxist, and I am not against private property. I like Marx and his philosophy which is ideal, but practically thinking, a society now without any private property is unimaginable. My State Kerala is one which has deep roots of communism and left ideologies. As a political party Communist (Marxist) party has more followers than any other political party in the State. At present Left Democratic parties are in power. In my poems one can find my leaning towards left ideologies. I am always with the poor, the downtrodden, the labour class, and the marginalized.

11. Barathi: You have published a short story collection and at regular intervals you have been publishing short stories in journals, which has an equal impact on the readers. But you are identified as a poet than as a writer of fiction. Do you have any idea to concentrate on fiction in future?

Dr. K. V. Dominic: Since I have composed innumerable poems on almost all topics and themes, new poems are born now only occasionally. I would like to concentrate more on fiction, as you have suggested. The problem is that I can’t write anything which doesn’t impart any value or message.

Barathi: Recently, there has been a tremendous increase in violence and harassment against women and girl children and there are sad news about molestation of girl children. What is your stand about this? As a writer what is your reaction to such cruel acts?

Dr. K. V. Dominic: My reaction to such diabolic acts in our country has been recently expressed with a short poem entitled “Had I been Born as a Dove” published through Face Book. I am greatly shocked and pained by these unimaginable atrocities. I have ended the poem thus:

How can I feel proud of my country?

How can humans become so mean?

Had I been born as a dove

I shouldn’t have felt so much of pangs

We don’t hear of such shocking offences and tragedies in other countries. In my opinion such molesters and murderers should be trialed soon and subjected to capital punishment. Then only such tendencies can be controlled. Our democratic liberty has degenerated to uncontrolled license.   

12. Barathi: Now, we live in a technocratic world, where writers have started publishing online, especially on social media. Would you support this or the traditional way of publishing?

Dr. K. V. Dominic: Change is inevitable and as science progresses writing and publication style is compelled to change. Instead of writing on a paper, many writers are typing their compositions now directly on the computer. Since print media is much costlier than web media many writers prefer to publish their works through free social media and online journals. Publication through social media has another attraction. Since the work (short pieces of poem, short story, article etc.) reaches the readers instantly, the writer will get the feedback within a few days. The print media has no such attractions. But the case of a full book in print and e-version is different. The beauty of a print book remaining ever visible and immortal in the book shelves of houses and libraries can’t be dreamed of by an e-book. That is the very reason why people prefer to publish books in print version even though it is very costly. 

13. Barathi: How do you feel about the present generation writers?

   And what is your suggestion for the budding poets/writers?

Dr. K. V. Dominic: With regard to the use of English language, the present generation is not very careful. Grammar mistakes can’t tolerated under any poetic license. I find many such mistakes in novels, short stories and poems of the youngsters. With regard to themes and topics they should concentrate more on the burning issues of the country as well as that of the universe. At the same time they should be very cautious not to wound or hurt others’ feelings.

14. Barathi: Many of your poems sound philosophical, for instance, “Tyagi”, “Brahman’s Leela”, “What is Karma?” etc. Besides, one could find a fine blend of Christian theology and Hindu philosophy. Though a Christian, in particular, you seem to be attracted towards the Advaita philosophy. What is the reaction of the readers to this, sir?

Dr. K. V. Dominic: Though I am born as a Christian, I believe in no established religion. My religion and philosophy is Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam. Advaita philosophy seems to me more reasonable than Dvaita. In fact Jesus Christ spoke of both Dvaita and Advaita philosophies. When he spoke of God the Father in Heaven, it is Dvaita and when he said that God is within you and your neighbours, it is Advaita. Being an Indian, naturally I will have a fascination and love for my motherland and its philosophies. So it is not surprising that I love Hinduism and Buddhism. Moreover I find science and spirituality as twin sides of these philosophies. My stand has been appreciated by my readers, both Eastern and Western. How it appeals to the Western readers is reflected by the great reception and appreciation of my books published in USA.

15. Barathi: A final question to you sir, in some poems what readers observe is the negativity, anti-socialism, religious fanaticism in the country as portrayed by you. Though it is sad, don’t you think that writing on this subject will bring a kind of bad impression about us?

Dr. K. V. Dominic: The primary duty of a poet or writer is to correct his society. A poet or a writer is a person above the ordinary man, in the sense that he is more sensitive to things around him. I have composed my poems and short stories primarily for my own countrymen to read. It is my belief that poets are the best educators to impart great values and messages to the society since religious and political readers have their own partisan interests. Ours is a democratic country and we have innumerable problems and issues to be solved here. I can’t take a stand “my country, right or wrong” in civil matters to be solved in the country itself. Hence as a poet I will be forced to fight against and write on the evil tendencies of the people, superstitions and religious fanaticism, communalism and casteim, corruption done by the government etc. When negative aspects are much more than the positive aspects, how can I glorify the positive things and pretend to ignore the dark face of the country?

16. Barathi: Many research articles and critical books have been published on your works and the young researchers are interested on conducting research in your works. Can you suggest some possible areas where your works to be researched on?

Dr. K. V. Dominic: Since I have written several poems on various themes and topics, researchers can find so many areas in them. They can do research on topics like social awareness, social criticism, philosophy, patriotism, nature, environment, eco-criticism, regional elements, ethics, multiculturalism, love for animals, war and terrorism, issues of women and children, Indian aesthetics, trilateral relation of God, man and nature, old age problems, initiative, leadership, loneliness and alienation etc.

17. Barathi: It is an immense pleasure to converse with you. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and valuable time.

Dr. K. V. Dominic: Thanks a lot dear Dr. Barathi for your sensible questions. God bless you!


Dr Barathi Srinivasan is an Assistant Professor of English at Srinivasa Ramanujan Centre, SASTRA Deemed to be University, Kumbakonam, India. Her poems are widely anthologized in books and international journals. She has translated one novel, two short story collections, and five poetry anthologies into Tamil language. Besides she has published an anthology of poems titled Heart to Heart (2023) and a book of interviews titled A Conversation with Contemporary Indian English Poets (2023). She has received quite a number of awards such as Best translator Award (2021) Capecomorin Trust  Best Faculty Award (2021 & 2022) KIWI Miles, New Zealand, Capecomorin Trust Best Female Faculty Award (2023) Bestow Edutex, and she is also awarded a Honorary D Lit by McStem Eduvarsity, U.S.A.  Email: barathi0723@gmail.com


Sunday 9 July 2023

"Materials and motifs of Indian thought system in the short stories of K. V. Dominic" by Biswanath Kundu


Materials and motifs of Indian thought system in the short stories of K. V. Dominic

Biswanath Kundu

An edited anthology of 17 selected short stories written by K V Dominic, one of the globally known literary luminaries of our time looks like a kaleidoscope to explore the essence and fragrance of short stories that can be read in a single sitting.  The stories included in the present anthology are based on various themes like Man & Nature, Value of Compassion, Crime & Karma, and The Fates and so on that affect and effect the flow of life everywhere in the world. Let’s read them one by one.

The collection opens with the story, “Who is Responsible” that delineates Crime & Karma in a style characterized by realism and authentic introspection into the complexities of the Indian society. Rehman, a retired headmaster in Kerala and Ramla, a housewife got their only son Anwar who was employed abroad, married to Aisha, a beautiful girl of the locality. Anwar came to India for a short leave. After joyous wedding celebration followed by the sweetest honeymooning at Ooty, Anwar went back to Oman, leaving behind his young and beautiful wife to his parents till his next leave after two years. At the end of the happy spell spent with her beloved, Aisha now got caught severely in grief and loneliness.  Life started to take twists and turns for Aisha. Her in-laws apprehended something unethical but dared not ask anything. They started decaying from within. Their psychological traumas as well as the reality of life have been nicely depicted in the following lines:

“It was true that she was a bride, but her body knew no ethics. Who would satiate her carnal desires? How long could she control her desires? How could she resist the enticement? Was it fair for her husband to leave her hungry there for such a long time? Can Anwar be blamed as he was against the marriage itself? Who is to be blamed then?”  

Rehman’s heaven like house turned quick to a hell of sorrows and dejection followed by twine shocking news, first his daughter-in law’s elopement with a chauffeur and next his son’s sacking from service on charges of involvement in terrorist activities. He wished not to live any longer and prayed God to get withdrawn. Finally he and his wife are found stabbed to death in their bedroom. The police came and started to investigate the crime. Here again the following lines raise an eternal question to the humanity all around the world:

“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?”   

“Sanchita Karma” is again a wonderful story on the same theme i.e., on Crime & Karma. It resembles to a frame story or a story within a story. The present story reminds the readers of the narrative tales available in Panchatantra. As per accumulated results of actions of previous births Stephan, an advocate and Stella, a housewife in their earlier birth, are now reborn as mice to be chased by the souls of seven cats whom they had killed through poisoning. The herd of the seven cats had been enjoying their life freely and happily in the house of their masters’ who were extremely kind hearted, affectionate and lover of nature too. But suddenly there came a tragic end of their happy life due to cruelty and selfishness from the part of Stephen and his wife, Stella.  Preethi, the grandma of the victim cat family now breaks down in anger and pains and comments:

‘We, cats have no boundaries as you mice too. The creator has created this earth for all animals and plants. He has not given human beings any special right to fence any land. But the selfish man does so’. Pointing to the trembling mice couple, she hits out: ‘the devil in him and his wife nurtured hate for us and it ended in poisoning us.’

The cycle of death and rebirth has been superbly explicated once again in the story through Preethi, as found from the following line:

“The cruelty you had shown to us and our masters are the karmas which demanded reaction. The gravity of your crimes was such that it could not be atoned by any punishment when you were still alive as human beings. So you are destined to be born as mice to be chased by the souls of the seven cats you dispatched in your last birth.”  

Let’s now discuss stories dealing with Man & Nature. There are four such stories in these collections. These are: “World Environment Day”, “Nature Teaches”, “The Twins” and “Is Human lives Precious than Animal’s”.  The essence and fragrance of life on earth is a reality so long honored as the interdependence of Man and Nature. The very survival of human beings is in peril once Nature starts to take revenge for wounds being inflicted on her. The writer who himself is a great humanist cum Nature lover has described this plain truth as picturesquely as well as deftly in all these four stories. Let’s analyze it one by one.

In “ Nature Teaches”  he shows how a crooked and commercial design of the Municipal Council of felling down a big roadside fig tree that houses birds, squirrels, flies, honeybees, wasps, chameleons, spiders, ants and several other creatures besides being the shelter for passengers waiting for buses in the sun and rain was foiled by Nature itself. The readers start swallowing the vivid portrayal of the development when the protest of a group of Nature lovers failed and emerged instead on the scene the non humans with the onus of safeguarding their habitat and teaching man a lesson that they are never inferior to him but superior as found from the following:

“Now is our turn,” The leader of the crow gave signal to all birds. All the crows, mynahs, and other birds flew down and started pecking on the head of the Sub inspector, police constables, Chairman, Managers and woodcutters. The Sub Inspector gave order to shoot the birds with guns. The gun shots went up and one hit the huge wasp nest on one of the branches of the tree. Thousands of wasps flew down angrily and attacked the offenders. The police, the Chairman and the Manager got into their vehicles and sped away for their lives…”

‘World Environment Day’ is another wonderful story wherein Kaatturaja, the most sought out forest thief in Karnataka gets transformed into a forest savior meted with again a great teaching from Nature. Here is the pen picture of the great change:

“5th June 2011. World Environment Day. Kaatturaja was all alone in the forest and was trying to axe a teak. ….The teak sensed the advent of its death and cried for help. Insensible to human beings the cry reached the ears of elephants grazing on a mound nearby.

…the elephants rushed to him roaring. Frightened he shot up the tree like a rocket. The elephants stood beneath the tree waiting for his descent. The teak thanked the elephants through its rustling applause.”

This story provides an excellent message of the need of preservation of forest and protecting its animals for the very survival of human beings.

Fight against cruelty to animals is not only a slogan but a social obligation. Government has earmarked April as the month of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Violation of the law of Indian Animal Welfare Act is a criminal offence. Still poor animals suffer miserably at the hands of cattle traders and are forced to end their lives bearing intolerable pains and groins. On this perspective another masterpiece short story titled “Is Human life Precious than Animal’s?’ is here a special gift to the readers. Being shocked at the video clip of the 9 pm news in Asianet TV Channel Prof. Antony Francis, a professor of Zoology in a Government college and a genuine lover of animals lodged a criminal case against Anthappan, the cattle trader and the murderer of the cow, in the High Court of Kerala and pleaded as follows:

“Had it been a human being in place of the murdered cow, what punishment Mr. Anthappan would have deserved, the same punishment shall be awarded to him, I plead your honour. Your honour, is human life precious than animals’ or animals’ life valueless compared to humans’?” 

“The Twins” is an equally important addition in this series of stories dealing with Man and Nature. How pet cats have become inseparable members of a family has been nicely described in this story. Manikutty and Amminikutty, the angelic twins would play happily not only in the kitchen but also in the entire room pestering miau, miau, miau with their loving master and mistress. With their presence they both got back their childhood and started playing with them and enjoying their activities as found from the following:

‘The expression of these twins’ love-their kissing each other, hugs, licking one another, sleeping on other’s body, eating and drinking from the same plate, playing together etc, etc, --are real feasts for our eyes and mind.’

When everything was going on smoothly suddenly the scenario changed. Master’s mother who was eighty seven years old, weak and heart patient had come there for staying with them for some months. She needed medicines timely. One day while masters were leaving for their workplaces they fed the twins and kept extra food for them in the kitchen and prayed to God that the twins should not create problems to their mother. During lunch time when he returned home he saw his mother struggling for breath and tablets and food tumbled down. Immediately he attended to her emergency medical needs and thereafter readied to leave the twins for the very life of his dear mother. The writer’s philosophical note on this regard is worth mentioning:

‘After all life is a sum of innumerable meetings and partings!’

His act of deserting the loving twins is ridiculed brilliantly by the great lines uttered by the twins as found from the following:

‘Pappa, are you leaving us? Please don’t leave us. Please don’t leave us. How will we live? Who will feed us? Wasn’t it better that you killed us?’  Ultimately he was relieved of suffocation and aching of his heart by a call from his mother ordering him to bring back the twins to home again as seen from the following line:

“…If you can’t, then you may discard me also.’

Here, we, the readers are reminded of the satire in the story of ‘The Necklace’ by Maupassant, the father of the modern short story.

There are several stories in these collections based on ‘The value of Compassion’. All are distinct in unfurling great social messages. Let’s discuss them one by one starting with “A Good Samaritan”.

Prof. Mohan was driving a car along national highway to attend a seminar at Thrissur. Suddenly he noticed a man lying unconscious and bleeding through his nostrils at the left side of the road. Unlike the general trend of the urban selfish people, he lifted him to his car and took him to the nearest hospital. He signed the papers for the patient as none of his relatives was present there. He himself even advanced an amount of Rs. 10000/- as fees of operation. On recovery of identity card and a phone diary from the wallets of Xavier, the victim, he called to his wife, Mariam, at home. Within half an hour Mariam arrived there accompanied by a dozen people followed by more and more people of different sections of the society. They all started praying for his life. The story based on such an incident that is common in our life looks like a pleasant and happy reading for those who believe in divine justice. The writer has beautifully presented it during the conversation between Prof. Mohan and Mariam as found from the following:

‘...My husband has saved five hundred and ten people from the road accidents in the past eight years. We have taken it our mission to save lives of men who are uncared on road sides. My daughters and I help my husband in nursing the accident victims in the hospital. There were several cases in which the relatives of the victims never turned up and we had to bear the hospital charges. Forty nine victims have died on the lap of my husband on his way to the hospital…”

‘Multicultural Harmony’ is another excellent story conveying the message of ‘The value of compassion’. Amar, Akbar and Antony were three friends. They lived with their families as members of one joint family in a village in Kerala and celebrated happily the religious festivals like Onam, Vishu, Christmas, Easter, Ramzan, Bakrid etc together. Amar’s son Anand and Antony’s daughter Celina were in love with each other since school time. They are now both engineering graduate and employed at Bangalore. When Celina’s father was planning to get his daughter married the relation between Anand and Celina was no more kept in secret. The thought of inter-religious marriage reared in two souls when expressed two bosom friends were turned into foes overnight. Their common friend Akbar tried as a mediator to unite them but failed as both the families were inflamed by religious sentiments. Although there was great pressure from both the families and relatives to break their love and decision to marry, their love did not end, rather continued, of course secretly. Meanwhile losing peace of mind Celine became seriously ill and needed Kidney transplantation. When Antony was at his wits’ end how to save his dear daughter from the impending death Akbar conveyed to him Anand’s willingness to donate one of his kidneys to Celina. This was the turning point that brought two families closer again. Hundreds of the villagers including parish priest, pujari, and imam who were waiting outside the hospital celebrated the successful transplantation in a festive mood coming out of their religious bigotries. The happy ending of this tale of true love is picturesquely delineated as follows:

“The Pujari said: we are only happy to be part of this purest union of two souls.

The parish priest then said: Its God Almighty who has united them sharing their organs and religions shall take it in that sense giving full support to God’s plans. We will surely be present for the function and will bless the ideal couple.

The Imam said: This is God’s plan and man shall not try to make any obstructions. I will be present for the function to bless the noble couple.”

This story provides an excellent example of the notion of transmigration of soul. And this will help people living in any corner of the world to get a firsthand experience of authentic Indian culture.

There are three other stories on the same theme i.e., the value of compassion. These are ‘An email from Senthil Kumar’, ‘Clement’s return from UAE’ and ‘Compassion rewards’. In all these stories a great message is conveyed to the society that the compassion shown to anyone in life never goes in vain, rather it comes back amply rewarded in that very life.

In-depth analysis of the minds of the people around us has been reflected in the story ‘An email from Senthil Kumar.’ The story showcases with instances after instances how an honest lie prolongs the life of an over sentimental aged heart patient and rewards the family by sustaining life of their dearest member again and again. A dutifully beautiful son may not get an equally beautifully dutiful mother in times of need. Selfishness and individualism, the hard realities of life have been nakedly exposed during covid-19 or more particularly at the times of quarantine period.

Author’s keen observation on the developments of the society during pandemic period has been vividly portrayed in the story ‘Clement’s return from UAE’.

The writer’s penetration into the psychological aspects of human nature is clearly evident from the composition of the story ‘Compassion rewards’ wherein he shows how benevolent and compassionate mind works reversibly and helps rescue the distressed in times of need. 

The collection includes four stories dealing with the burning social issues and the fates. These are ‘Aren’t they our sisters?’, ‘Seetha’s resolve’, ‘Old age home’ and ‘Fate of migrant labourers’. Let’s go through the stories one after another.

The first story of the series i.e., ‘Aren’t they our sisters?’ opens with landing of Rajesh, a son of a sex worker now a very rich man and owner of Govind Mills, Kochi, at Mumbai Airport and proceeding to a brothel at Kamathapura for rescuing Kerala girls who are living there a filthy, hellish life. After much persuasion he succeeds in agreeing Stella, an abused sex worker and other nineteen hapless ladies to the offer of their rehabilitation to normal life with employment at the Mills based on their education and skill. Through a grand welcome celebration attended by nearly 500 people including Mayor of Kochi and a retired chief justice of Kerala High Court they were all brought back to the mainstream of the society with a new life full of happiness and hope.

Like a genuine social reformer, the writer pinpoints the circumstances leading to induction of innocent and credulous young girls into the sex racket and advocates strongly for rehabilitation of the cheated, tortured and abused human resources through messages conveyed by different VIPs present in the welcome celebration as found from the following: 

‘…company’s unique act should be a model to all big firms and billionaires in the world. The wealth they amass is indirectly the wealth of the society and so part of it should be returned to the society by way of humanitarian activities. The retired chief justice in his key note reminded the society that it should never treat sex workers with contempt. Having abused and exploited for carnal pleasures, treating them like curry leaves is cruelty of highest degree and unpardonable. After all aren’t they your own sisters?”  

Love makes one blind and prompts to go to the extreme caring little about his counterpart lest his beloved goes to the other hands, is the main theme of the story ‘Seetha’s resolve’. Venu, an auto rickshaw driver loved his classmate Seetha, now a teacher by profession, since the school days. Venu never expressed his love but reared it secretly in his mind. One day when he came to know that Seetha was going to be married off soon elsewhere he proposed her and was rejected outright for not being a good match. He could not digest the rejection and committed a heinous crime of burning her face with acid as to avoid her being owned by someone else through marriage because he loved her so much. Thus the young beautiful lady got fated as an acid victim. The fate of the victim can be guessed from the following:

‘Usually acid victims are neglected by the society and they take refuge in the rehabilitation centres established by NGOs.’  

Disaster, however, tragic and enormous be it, can always be overcome with will power. Perhaps this philosophy of life of the writer finds a pleasant expression in this story. He shows how an ill fated acid victim returns to normal life with support from family members and people around her and even emerges as the Best Teacher of the year in the country. The great message of extending hands of support to the distressed people as conveyed in this story may be found from the following speech she gave on her receiving the national award from the President: 

‘…  I dedicate this award and honour to the thousands of acid victims in the world. I could come back to my life and rise to this stature only because of the love and compassion shown to me by the people around me.  Hence I request all my countrymen to shower love and concern to the victims who are destined to live hellish miserable life in their houses and rehabilitation centres. It is for no reason of theirs that they became victims of such inhuman atrocities. Given proper love and compassion these victims can come back to normal life like me.’        

Let’s now read the story ‘Fate of Migrant labourers’. Here we see Aminul, a migrant labourer working in Kerala with the builder Arjun Saab got upset and panicked hopelessly hearing the news of sickness of his wife during covid period. On advice of his other roommates there, he approached his employer who not only readily assured all financial help to the ill-fated labourer but stood by him also as a big brother providing necessary guidance to treat his sick wife. Unlike the trends of selfishness and inhuman activities in the society, the story provides an excellent example of human relation between the employer and the employee.       

Movement of people from one state to another in search of job is a common exercise for all those either totally unemployed or seasonally employed. Big companies are always busy ensuring supply of cheap labourers from the economically weaker sections to register greater profitability in their trades. Deprived of job opportunities in home states skilled and unskilled labourers are compelled to leave their dear homes and stay outside only to arrange food for dear families. Thus are born the migrant labourers. During the period of lockdown most of them had lost their jobs and thus they had been passing through the most precarious life. People were seen turning fast into selfish entities having neither time nor intention to serve anyone except themselves. Humanity seemed to reach at its bottom. Still there was a ray of hope, a rare celebration of true love between two uneven classes, the employer and the employee that has got explored by the optimistic writer in this touching story as found from the following:

“In an inhuman society where employers show least love and kindness to employees and labourers, Arjun shines like a star-a polestar showing an exemplary model to all”  

‘Old age home’ is again a touchy story related to pangs of loneliness experienced in the growing old age homes in the city that is fated to be the refuge of hundreds of senior citizens who have been bereaved either of dear soul partners at home or forced to stay singly here being separated from their dear children established and settled abroad.

Juxtaposition of joy and sorrow, pride and tears, reality and fantasy is littered extensively in the entire story. Getting old is an unstoppable process of life and readying to leave behind our dearest and loveliest possession both living and nonliving with time is a reality. The writer’s social awareness as well as pragmatic vision of life can be traced from the conversation of two inmates of the Old age home as follows:

‘Ravi: Calm down, Jacob. This is the fate of all parents whose children are abroad. There are thousands of parents like you in hundreds of old age homes grieving like you. This is the way of the present world. Kindly take life philosophically like me and enjoy life till it leaves our body.’  

Let’s now read the story’ Coffin Maker’ that happens to be the concluding story of these collections. In the story we see how Pater, once the best student in the class in a school in Kerala was inducted in the business of coffin making due to poverty. Finding no other option to feed a big family consisting of widowed mother, wife and two children he was chained in his father’s shop where he had apprenticed after the end of his school education. He was going through severe mental agony with this fearful profession that looked like praying for people’s death. His daughter too requested him to give up the job and try for anything better to maintain the family with happiness. But glaring unemployment problem in Kerala and his poor health stood as an impediment to take risk of availing any new initiative. So despite enduring unbearable pains, while he was continuing in his business of coffin making, one day he happened to meet his old classmate Afsal at his shop. This meeting brought a great turn in his life as he found an escape route from the hellish life. He was offered a job in Kuwait. And like a true friend Afsal made all arrangements including passport, visa .He extended necessary financial support also and helped him start a new happy chapter in his life.

A friend in need is a friend indeed. This eternal truth finds its practical application in the story ‘Coffin Maker’. Pangs of agony coupled with irony of fate unleashed with burning unemployment problem have been nicely captured by the writer as found from the following:

‘…I don’t like this job. But there is no other option to feed my family. Horrifying images of death are dancing around me whenever I work here. No pleasing thoughts enter my mind.”

We have so far discussed about the sixteen stories. One is still left. Now we will wind up our discussion with the reading of the story “Best government Servant’. Here it is:

Dr. Krishnan Namboodiri, the son of an honest retired school teacher got appointment as an LDC in a Taluk Office in Kerala at the age of 38 after enduring a series of tests and tribulations of life. In spite of his all through brilliant academic records, a pauper student like him could not get deserving placement anywhere so long mostly due to staggering unemployment problem and excellent literacy rate and somehow due to lack of financial and political connection to bargain a job for him. Born in an ideal Brahmin family he inherited great values like honesty, sincerity, truthfulness, patriotism and so on from his parents. Just after a week of his joining in the office, he got shocked seeing his colleagues taking bribes for their service. He not only refused to take his share but also protested vehemently against the ongoing practice of corruption in the government office. As a punishment of his non cooperation with the existing practice of receiving compliments from the generous customers for the service, soon he was transferred to a village office at a remote place by the Tahsildar. In the new office he continued to serve the poor people of the locality honestly with certificates and other documents as expeditiously as possible and lodged a bribery case in the high court against the Tahsildar and the entire staff of the Taluk Office. With support of his parents and wife he fought a legal war singly and boldly against all the corrupt staff. He won it ultimately and was reinstated to the Taluk Office with additional increment emerging as the Best Government Servant by Governor of Kerala.

The story unveils the pains and traumas of the unutilized human resources. It is again a pensive account of the corruption amongst a section of people in government jobs. It gives a distressing note of degradation of values, morality and ethics in the society. But it is not all about nihilism. He is optimistic too and banks on some positive aspects of life. Great virtues like honesty, sincerity, dedication to duty and extending helping hands to the needy and the distressed transpire automatically from inheritance. This conviction has been established in this story. The fight for a noble cause may be challenging but it ends with a rewarding win provided the courage and stamina is not lost. Different shades of life are scattered plentifully throughout the story which is reflective of the psyche of the writer as well as a direct hit on the great mockery of the present day system as found from the following:

“…you have to do your duties very promptly as others are. There is a harmony in our work and therein lies our success.”     

All these seventeen short stories discussed so far are powerful enough to spread awareness and educate the people. Readers find in almost all the stories a fine blend of reality and fantasy. Like a master craftsman he portrays a picturesque view of the tales catering to the needs of analyzing short stories from an anthropological point of view. The shadow of the great style of writing of both James Joyce and Ernest Hemingway is greatly noticed in most of the stories of these collections as reflected from the application of his profound minds as well as simplicity of language and modern themes. He speaks volume in a short space about cause and effect in relationship with words flowing from the mouths of the characters but staying in our minds. Almost all the stories included in these collections belong to the Indian soil in general and in Keralitic perspective in particular. Like the stories of R. K. Narayan’s here also readers find a lot of portrayals relating to south Indian life, their culture, custom, faith and his views of the world and those who live in it. These short stories, all being rich gifts in world literature, it is believed, will enjoy the media adaptations and find its deserving inclusion in curricular activities.        

Works Cited

Dominic, K. V. Nirbachita Choto Galpo. Rohini Nandan, 2022.

---. Sanchita Karma and Other Tales of Ethics and Choice from India. Modern History Press, 2018.

---. Short Stories During Covid-19. Authorspress, 2022.

Maupassant, Guy de. “The Necklace.” https://www.eastoftheweb.com/short-stories/UBooks/Neck.shtml.



Biswanath Kundu

A science graduate and a retired Accounts Official in Indian Railways, Biswanath Kundu (b.1963) is an author of thirteen books, seven of them being books of poems. Besides he has co-authored two books of criticism with Dr. Ramesh Chandra Mukhopadhyaya. His poems and articles have been published in different prestigious anthologies and internationally famous journals. Email: bp_kundu@yahoo.com

Tuesday 4 July 2023

THE IMPARTIAL INTUITIONS: An analysis Prof. K. V. Dominic's Short Stories


      THE IMPARTIAL INTUITIONS: An Analysis of Prof. K. V. Dominic's Short Stories


Sreedharan Parokode


Stories are written for explaining the abstract ideas to make them accessible to the person or the group going through. They are sometimes, the facts of life, sometimes the facts interwoven with imaginative calibre. Anyhow, they are the narration of creativity elucidated with a mission with a view to make awareness of the happenings, in and around. There will have thoughtful moments thoroughly caught up by the teller (writer) whose interest goes beyond igniting interest of the reader. With the elements of wit and vivacity he adds flavour behind the curtain of incidents, by the potentiality of the thoughts.

The writer with the sole intention of creating a spark in readers’ mind uses the emotions and moves with the readers with his feelings accumulated from the experiences unexplained. In fact, telling a story is an art or noble work as it is directly or indirectly touches the palpitations of thoughts of the community. The writer’s soul gets relaxed when the words are appropriately made or his quill takes rest after the process and ready to move in to the society. He doesn’t bother which way it travels. Definitely it creates some indelible marks.

Prof. K. V. Dominic, through his ‘Selected Short Stories’, takes the human pulse to describe the sides of shadows of human thoughts and actions in a special way. As we know, Prof. Dominic is a poet with narrative skill to divulge the contemporary situations along with traditional technique. He is a multifaceted thinker writes about values to be preserved, always makes human affections and aspirations for his ‘writing fuel’. Being a prolific writer, widely known in poetry world, the writer has created unforgettable incidents with unimaginable quality of writing.


In the story, ‘Aren’t they Our Sisters?’ the writer gives a clear picture of a situation as:

    Rajesh landed at Mumbai airport and went straight to the prepaid taxi booking desk. He booked a taxi car to Kamathipura, paying the charge of Rs.600. Rajesh got in to the car and the journey started. A well begun story really gives inquisitiveness.

Driver, what is your name? Rajesh asked.

I am Arun Sir.

How long it is to Kamathipura? 18 Kilometres, Sir.

How much time needed? Maximum 20 minutes, Sir. Where are you from Sir? Kerala. (Short Stories during Covid-19)

The dialogue ended. The abrupt ending of the conversation compels the reader to think that there is something in the story. Really, the ending is becoming the beginning of the story, in a sense.

Every piece of writing is for the reader’s attention. At first, the scene troubles the writer and creates wave of emotions in him. Subsequently he is pouring it without losing the gravity of it. It compels the readers to be with it. In fact, stories are the proponents of visions.

Here, in ‘A Good Samaritan’, the writer opens his sympathy of heart saying ‘I am going to narrate an incident that is three fourth real and the rest blended with some fantasy to make it a short fiction. In it, he says about the iron-hearted people. At the same time Dr. Dominic depicts the reality faced by Mariam, the wife of Mr. Xavier admitted in the hospital following a road accident. The picturisation of the characters’ mental conditions is beyond words and that too are given with suitable words. Similar situations are faced on the roads when buses and cars are running like ‘rockets’, as he says. (Who is Responsible?)

Prof. Dominic’s method of telling story is unique. It seems that words come to obey him. When the doctor of the hospital said Xavier’s surgery was successful and survived the crucial condition, the reader is also relieved with his kith and kin waiting outside for the good news. Here, the writer's purpose is clear, for that he joins the suitable words with the situation. Through the portrayal of Xavier’s family’s circumstance, Prof. Dominic visualises the entire system, including common man’s suffocation and sufferings.

Coming to ‘Best Government Servant’, another notable story, Krishnan Namboodiri, a 38 year old job seeker as the main character, tells of the dusty mind set of some people. Krishnan Namboodiri , a man with principles has to leave due to the unscrupulous attitude of his co-workers. Being the son of a teacher who possessed the virtues of Truth and Non- violence, Krishnan could not tolerate with these. He is well aware of the unemployment period, tiresome, engagements in some tuition centres, the mental agony followed etc are visibly narrated here. Late coming of the staff, attitude of illegal money acceptance of the taluk office staff, all made his job interest less. Exchange of words with Raju, the peon, as Krishnan was totally against this practice, arise the conscience of the common man. The Tahsildar’s remark, as ‘Krishnan, don’t be like Lord Krishna’ you will have to bear the consequences if you swim against the flow of the office, is a true picture of some offices run. The victory of truthfulness is highlighted in the story at last. A warm reception was accorded to him by the Governor and Krishnan was awarded the “Best Servant”. (Sanchita Karma and Other Tales of Ethics and Choice from India)

‘An E mail from Senthil Kumar’ is not an ordinary mail, but it is a heart’s weeping in the form of reply detailing the causes of delay in replying. expressing sorry for the delay. When we go through the description in it, the anger in the reader will dissolve and turn into sympathy. He was the son of a mother with heart ailments and was under treatment for the last few years. A thousand thoughts regarding the disease and the treatment process are left for the reader to see such a situation. Contemporary hospitalisation and the expenditure incurred all come up here for visualisation. But the story ends with an apology of the email sender: ‘mother was discharged from the hospital and lies in my house longing for death.’

Senthil adds:Hope you have understood my position. You can do nothing to soothe me. Kindly pray for my mother.”The above words of Senthil makes readers’ eyes wet, no doubt. Here too, we see the writer’s peculiarity of picking words. The reader’s mind would stand still over it. (Who is Responsible?)

In ‘Sanchita Karma’ one of the marvelous stories in the book, Krishna was a             poet and Nature lover. Krishna had only ten cents of land and on it he had planted papaya trees. The trees are                  not meant for the fruits for his family. He is in mirth when he sees that the birds feast upon the ripe fruits. These lines are truly the examples for the writer’s ardent desire for protecting them by providing with what one has. In other words, Prof. Dominic sees the other part of the world also, making all the creatures friends and relatives. Krishnan and family loved their cats and other pets as their own children. Sanchita Karma is the accumulated result of all your actions from all the past life time. (Sanchita Karma and Other Tales of Ethics and Choice from India)

The story, ‘The Twins’ belongs to a special category. Some of the waves go like:

“when I teach feminism to my students I pray to God to dissuade the students from asking its practice in my own life. He adds a noble sentence to it, ‘a teacher should be a model to the students.’ A colourful description is given there about Manikutty and Amminikutty well attended by the writer’s family. The innocent childhood is brought back, the story reveals. It can be said beyond doubt that Dr. Dominic has wonderfully crafted it saying with an element of satire as: ‘the way they played football was more thrilling than watching the World Cup, though they made the pillows and bed as their toilets.’ Bitter sweetness indeed! (Who is Responsible?)

The story ‘World Environment Day’ tells of the peculiar scenes of the forest and the splendid work of Katturaja. This, too, is involved in the activities of Nature. One could sense the mirth of the Nature from the chirping of birds, laughing of the leaves and different moods of the birds and animals.

‘Clement’s Return from UAE’ is a story with Merlin’s anxiety “Have you booked your ticket dear?” we are all worried about you. Are you alright there?” Merlin’s phone call was not about the climatic condition of the country or taste of the food taken. But, it revolves around with the sharpness of a thousand thoughts!

The panic situation gripped throughout, making everybody standstill and everything motionless- the Pandemic Covid 2019. Compelling lock down, flight cancellation, RTPCR,  quarantine, making the unfamiliar words and situations familiar. Indescribable conditions of death toll, checking of routes by the Health Departments and the related personnel…

“What shall I do reaching home?” was a spreading puzzle from hearts to hearts across the globe. Clement too was hopeless and helpless. There was no sufficient amount as bank balance and how will the family survive.’ This was the fear embraced throughout.

Unexpected words coming from his mother’s mouth further saddened him ‘will you spend the quarantine period in some hotels?’

He felt that he had denied entry into his house. Clement’s mind can well be read here. He wanted to cry out loudly. A former student of Clement appears on the scene and he renders needful and possible help to clement. This story also tells virtue will not vanish forever. It also has a nice ending, leaving the eyes of the reader tearful. (Short Stories during Covid-19)

The characterisation of the life of the neighbours with their kith and kin in the village called Devalokam is also quite marvelous.

In the story, ‘Multicultural Harmony’ the character Amar is a farmer, Akbar is a businessman and Anthony an Upper Division Clerk in the Education Department. They never had a feeling that they belonged to different religions. Their parents brought them up in such a secular manner and that religion never mattered in their social life. Festivals were celebrated with equal fervour and enthusiastic mind. Such an excellent picture of the unity is given in it. It is not the case of a family or the families, but the writer likes the entire world to be with the notion of harmonious life, without any sort of conquer and conflict.

But the last part of the story tells that the bosom friends Amar and Anthony became foes to each other. Akbar’s attempt to unite them turned out to be futile as both the families were inflamed by the religious sentiments. The sublime decisions of donating one of the kidneys and the decision of conducting marriage ceremony give the reader a happy note. (Sanchita Karma and Other Tales of Ethics and Choice from India)

In ‘Old Age Home’, the pathetic condition of the inmates is narrated with unusual charm. Jacob’s words would definitely hurt us as he says: ‘my mind is full of memories of my wife, I long to go back to my house and land’.  Here we can feel the closeness maintained with his partner, who has left him. (Writers Editors Critics, vol.13, no. 1 March 2023)

Story telling is not an easy task. What one imagines is splendidly depicted and gives the shape for it, at first, in his mind. He uses suitable language without providing confusions. He uses apt words for the appropriate situations. What he conceives is given with colours and calculations. With the ability of the teller’s talents coincided with his thoughtfulness he narrates the entire episode for the readers. It is needless to say that the writer visualises the situations first. Some edition work with deletion and addition also carried out to make it readable.

In the stories of Prof. Dominic, one can easily notice that he dreams of the concept ‘Vasudhaiva kutumbakam’ or the entire universe as one family. He has his words towards virtues, and at the same time against bad practices. He gives life to the characters. He is Keeping mum on some occasions. But the silence is eloquent. A true human being walks towards truth. It is evident in his stories. His egalitarian concept is vehemently clear in them. He has thousand tongues when he says about environmental issues. Birds and animals have ample space in his heart.

In real sense, Prof. Dominic is not writing for writing’s sake, but for humanity as a whole. It is with a visionary’s view he takes his pen.


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

---. Sanchita Karma and Other Tales of Ethics and Choice from India. Ann Arbor, USA: Modern History Press, 2018.

---. Who is Responsible? A Collection of Short Stories.  New Delhi: Authorspress, 2016.

Dominic, Prof. K. V. Short Stories during Covid-19. New Delhi: Authorspress, 2022.



Sreedharan Parokode is a bi-lingual poet and lyricist from Kerala. He has thirty books of poems to his credit, both in his mother tongue Malayalam and English. He has received awards and other honours including Sahithya Sree, Sahithya Shiromani, Shan-E-Adab etc. Email: sreeparokode@gmail.com