Today, the term camp clerk has disappeared. For B. Vaman Rao of Mangaluru, who served in the post for a quarter of a century, a mention of it brings back a flood of memories with which the recent history of the district is interwoven.
Septuagenarian Mr. Rao, who was a camp clerk (now personal assistants) for 16 deputy commissioners, has recently put his memories into a book ‘Kadalatadiya Nenapinalegalu’, lest some of the key events and circumstances that led to it or the impact they had, was not lost to posterity.
From the sad story of how a KSRTC bus sank in the flood waters of Kumaradhara near Subrahmanya killing all the commuters in 1969, to how the former Deputy Commissioner N.A. Muthanna freed the lands around Malpe Beach (then a part of Dakshina Kannada), the book throws light on many aspects of the district’s past. Though it is not strictly a research book, it is compendium of memories from a man who was watching the proceedings from close quarters. One cannot help the staccato progression of the narrative partly because of the nature of the book.
Though Mr. Rao, has refrained from taking names of persons involved in certain controversies, he has recorded that former Deputy Commissioner P.M. Mujahid had inaugurated a hotel in Kodialbail, which had encroached upon a part of a nearby land belonging to the corporation.
Mr. Rao has also seen the human side of many officers. When K.R. Ramachandran got the ‘telex’ message in 1963 that John F. Kennedy had been shot dead, the former DC could not stop the tears rolling from his eyes, he said.
The author of the book B. Vaman Rao was offered a bus pass in 1965 to travel from Urwa Store from where he would pay 17 paise for bus ticket one way to reach the Deputy Commissioner’s office. But Mr. Rao told the then DC H.L. Nagegowda that he did not want it. He explained, “If I take the bus pass today, tomorrow they (RTO staff and bus owners) will sit in front me with their files and it will affect my (fair) functioning.” The DC smiled at him.