ಕಾಮೆಯ ಮುತವರ್ಜಿ ವಹಿಸಿ ಪತ್ರಗಳನ್ನು ಪರಿಶೀಲಿಸುತ್ತಿದ್ದನು . ಯಾವ ಕೆಲಸವನ್ನೂ ಹೃತ್ಪೂರ್ವಕವಾಗಿ ಏಕಾಗ್ರತೆಯಿಂದ ಮಾಡಬೇಕೆಂದು ಚಿಕ್ಕಂದಿನಲ್ಲೇ ಅಪ್ಪಯ್ಯ ಅವನಿಗೆ ಕಲಿಸಿದ್ದರು . ಹಾಗಾಗಿ ಹೊರಗಿನಿಂದ ಸಣ್ಣದಾಗಿ ಕೇಳಿಬಂದ ವಿವಾದದೆಡೆ ಗಮನವನ್ನು ಹರಿಯಬಿಡದೆ ಕಾರ್ಯಮಗ್ನನಾಗಿದ್ದ ಕಾಮೆಯ . ಆದರದಿಂದ ಕೆಲವು ಸಲಹೆಗಳನ್ನು ನೀಡುತ್ತ ನಿಂತಿದ್ದರು ಹಿರಿಯ ಕಾರ್ಯದರ್ಶಿಗಳಾದ ಅಪ್ಪಣ್ಣನವರು .
ಕಾಮೆಯನಿಗೆ ಇವೆಲ್ಲವೂ ನೂತನ ಅನುಭವಗಳಾಗಿದ್ದವು . ಚಿಕ್ಕಂದಿನಿಂದ 'ಪುಟ್ಟ ಪುಟ್ಟ' ಎನ್ನುತ್ತ ತನ್ನನ್ನು ಎತ್ತಿ ಆಡಿಸಿದ್ದ ಅಪ್ಪಯ್ಯನ ಸಹಪಾಠಿಗಳೆಲ್ಲ ಇಂದು ತನ್ನನ್ನು 'ನೀವು ತಾವು' ಎಂದು ಮಾತನಾಡಿಸುವ ಪರಿ ಅವನಿಗೆ ಮುಜುಗುರವೇರ್ಪಡಿಸಿತ್ತು .
" ನಾನು ಎಂದೆಂದೂ ನಿಮ್ಮ ಪ್ರೀತಿಯ ಪುಟ್ಟನೇ ಅಲ್ಲವೇ ? ಇವಾಗ ಹೀಗೇಕೆ ? " ಎಂದು ತನ್ನ ಆಕ್ಷೇಪಣೆಯನ್ನು ವ್ಯಕ್ತಪಡಿಸಿದಾಗ , " ಇದು ನಾವು ನಿಮ್ಮ ಹುದ್ದೆಗೆ ತೋರುವ ಗೌರವ ! ಕಾಮೆಯ ದಂಡನಾಯಕರಿಗೆ ಸಲ್ಲಿಸುವ ಮರ್ಯಾದೆ ! " ಎಂದು ಅಧಿಕಾರಿಗಳೆಲ್ಲ ಅವನ ಬಾಯಿ ಮುಚ್ಚಿಸಿದ್ದರು !
ವೀರಬಲ್ಲಾಳ ಮಹಾರಾಜರ ಪರವಾಗಿ ಎಲಹಕ್ಕ ನಾಡನ್ನು ಆಳುತ್ತಿದ್ದ ಮಹಾಪ್ರಧಾನ ಪೊನ್ನಣ್ಣ ದಂಡನಾಯಕರು ತನ್ನ ಮಗ ಕಾಮೆಯನಿಗೆ ಸೈನಿಕ ತರಬೇತಿಯೊಂದಿಗೆ ಆಡಳಿತದ ಎಲ್ಲ ಕ್ಷೇತ್ರಗಳಲ್ಲಿಯೂ ಶಿಕ್ಷಣ ನೀಡಿದ್ದರು . ಕಾಮೆಯ ತನ್ನ ಪರಿಶ್ರಮದಿಂದಲೂ ದುಡಿಮೆಯಿಂದಲೂ ಈ ಎಳೆ ವಯಸ್ಸಿನಲ್ಲೇ ದಂಡನಾಯಕ ಪಟ್ಟವನ್ನು ಗಿಟ್ಟಿಸಿಕೊಂಡಿದ್ದನು. ಮೊದಲ ಬಾರಿಗೆ ಅವನ ಸಾಮರ್ಥ್ಯಕ್ಕೆ ಸವಾಲು ಒಡ್ಡುವಂತೆ ಎಲಹಕ್ಕ ನಾಡಿನ ಆಡಳಿತದ ಜವಾಬ್ದಾರಿಯನ್ನು ಒಂಟಿಯಾಗಿ ಹೊರ ಬೇಕಾದ ಪರಿಸ್ಥಿತಿ ಒದಗಿಬಂದಿತ್ತು . ಅಪ್ಪಯ್ಯ ಸುದ್ಧಿಯನ್ನು ತಿಳಿಸಿದಾಗ ಅವನು ತಬ್ಬಿಬ್ಬಾಗಿದ್ದನು .
Kameya , fully concentrating on reading the letters and documents , did not pay attention to the noise of some loud arguments going on out side. Appanna , a senior official in his father’s office , was helping him with the work .
Kameya found Appanna’s respectful behaviour very embarrassing , as the elderly man had carried him on his shoulders and played with him when he was a little boy. But Appanna maintained that the position Kameya now occupied, as Dandanayaka, deserved all due respect.
Mahapradana Ponnanna , the Chieftain who was governing the province of Yelahakka Nadu on behalf of Maharaja Veera Ballala, had trained his son Kameya in both martial arts and civil Administration . And now , the young man had attained the position of a Dandanayaka, serving alongside his Father . But this was the first time he had to occupy the office all by himself .
He had been a bit taken aback when his Father had brought him the news.
“ Kameya, our spies have reported that the Chieftain of the Delhi Sultanate , Malik Kafur, is preparing to invade South . Our King is presently traveling in a far off kingdom . He has to be alerted about this new danger .” Father had told him, “It may take me weeks to go there and return . Till then, you have to take care of Yelahakka Nadu…. . Keep this matter a secret , do not create panic among the people, but just see that our forces are ready . While I am gone , Appanna will help you in office matters .”
Kameya, now in full charge of the administration, was immersed in office work when the angry voices from outside rose higher , disturbing his concentration.
A Guard was shouting angrily “ Leave , you pest ! Don’t keep troubling me !”
“ I will not !” Screeched the thin voice of a girl defiantly ,” I have come to see the King and will not leave till I see him .”
Appanna , who had gone out to see what the problem was, returned , smiling . “ Some little girl, not three-spans high , is creating a nuisance , demanding to see the King !”.
“ Must be a stubborn child !” said Kameya, “ She has been arguing for quite a while now, ….let me see what she wants…”
He went out and was surprised to see a thin little girl , with a baby on her hip, confronting the Guard . Though her clothes were faded and and her hair unkempt, her huge black eyes flashed in fury . The baby, which was scrawny and dirty , was sucking away on his thumb hungrily .
Kameya called for a Servant to bring some food for both of them .
But the girl threw a tantrum . “ I don’t want any food . I want to see the King !”
“ Sure, sure !” Comforted Kameya kindly “But first , give the baby this milk and you eat some rice.”
The little girl calmed down a little and did as she was told.
“Now tell me, who are you , why have you come to see the King ?”
“I am Chikki . I am from Kadatanamale .”
“ Oh ! That’s far from here , with whom did you come and by cart or caravan ?”
“Cart ? Had I come by cart , they would have taxed the cart too …..I came alone , walking !” Said the girl bitterly .
Her talk seemed to touch Kameya in an odd way . Though Appanna advised him to send away the girl, he persisted in questioning her .
Soon he gathered that in her village , that year, there had been very poor harvest due to invasion of locusts. They had not got enough grains nor enough cotton for weaving .
“ But even when there is so much hardship, the Tax collectors have been coming regularly and troubling our people to pay taxes .” fumed the girl .
Kameya tried to reason it out with her “ Unless people pay taxes, how can the King provide the services for the people ?”
“ When we don’t have enough to eat , from where can we bring grains to pay your tax collectors ? Why can't they wait till we get better harvest ?”
“But why have you come to talk about this ? Are there no elders or a Headman in your village ?”
“The Headman is just advising people to go and petition the King , but is himself sitting like a stone idol . My father and other people are busy trying to save as many crops as possible before the Tax collectors come again and take away everything. My mother is ill . Since no one was moving, I decided to come, with my brother here ….. take me to the King .”
“ The King is not in town. But you may go home now . I will take care of everything .”
“ You ? You are only a lad ! What can you do ? ”
“ Mind your tongue, Girl ! ” Scolded Appanna, “ You are talking to the Dandanayaka!”
“ What ! …oh…” The girl was taken aback .
Kameya ordered a Guard to take the girl and baby , in a cart, back to their village and reach them home safely .
Chikki hesitated to climb into the cart .
“ Go on , do not be scared !” smiled Kameya , “ You don’t have to pay Tax to use this cart !”
Kameya Dandanayaka kept his promise to the girl . As he had told her that he would look into the matter , he decided to personally visit Kadatanamale to see what the situation was .
Early next morning , he set out with Appanna , halting first at the local temple for a prayer . He then headed towards his personal deity , the Anjaneya on the Pillar .
“ O Anjaneya , I have set out on my first independent move to meet the people as a Dandanayaka . Give me the strength and wisdom to understand and find solutions for the problems of my people .”
All along the road to Kadatanamale , the scenes that met his eye were pitiable and heartbreaking . Fields destroyed by locusts . Groves of withering coconut trees . Diseased crops being burnt down by farmers .
As they neared the village , a man who noticed them, shouted :
“ They have come again to suck our blood ! The cursed Tax Collectors !”
Within minutes there was a roaring mob of enraged villagers , charging towards them , shouting, wailing and cursing .
Appanna boomed authoritatively “ Silence ! … The Dandanayaka has come to listen to your problems and help you…..keep calm and speak up , one by one .”
Soon they all settled down under a tree and the villagers started narrating their woes . It became apparent to Kameya that what Chikki had told him was true . In spite of knowing that locusts had destroyed crops , the local tax collectors had been threatening the people that unless they paid the usual taxes, they would be thrown into dungeons by The King .
When questioned about this, the Headman ( Gavunda) hung his head guiltily .
Kameya turned towards the villagers . “ My dear people, our King is not a tyrant who would torture you for Taxes . In his name , other unscrupulous officers have been harassing you . But I will put an end to this ! ”
Kameya turned to Appanna and in a low voice , told him of his decision. “ Appanna , is this decision of mine right ?”
“ A kind and humane deed done for universal good can never be wrong, my boy.” Said Appanna , patting his back “Your thought is noble . Go ahead !”
Kameya stood up and addressed the gathering “ I , Kameya Dandanayaka , son of Ponnanna Dandanayaka who is governing Yelahakka Nadu for Mahapratapa Chakravarthi Veera Ballala the Third , do hereby grant to you, the people of Kadathanamale , this Village of Kadatanamale along with its revenues , for your use and peaceful enjoyment.”
The crowd cheered : “ Victory to Raja Veera Ballala”
“ Long live Kameya Dandanayaka ! ”
Amidst the loud cheering that reached the skies , the jubilant voice of Chikki was not lost .
On their way back, Appanna congratulated the young Dandanayaka on his first success as an administrator .
“But ,” he added, “ the taxes from that village were being used for the maintenance of the local temple . We now have to find other means to pay for it .”
“Appanna, Service to the people is same as Worship to God ….. Don’t worry about that temple . I will provide for it from my own private funds .”
Appanna smiled proudly at Kameya, remembering the little boy he had once carried on his shoulders and played with .
Based on a Village Grant Inscription dated 1310 C.E. found at Kambada Anjeyana Temple, Rajanakunte.