Uday Kumar Varma
I visited Tamia, once a little known but abundantly blessed little village but with uncommon scenic beauty and serenity. My first visit was almost forty years ago, the last one over a decade back.
And then came this visit, a long awaited one exciting me like a child, filling me with happy anticipation, with almost a child-like excitement and happy anticipation. My mind conjured up images of absolute bliss and peace of yonder years.
But what I saw when I reached Tamia was heart breaking. The place has turned from a tranquil quiet village with sylvan surroundings to a bustling crowded and increasingly dusty conglomeration of shops, cheap restaurants, and a string of hotels of indeterminate description.
Teeming with tourists and displaying heaps of plastic as the sure proof of the place having arrived on the tourist circuit of the Indian middle class. Perhaps the transition of the place was nowhere in my reckoning when I had planned the visit.
The PWD Rest house, the solitude and the silent music of rustling leaves and whispering winds that defined the place, now accommodated a crowd of noisy men, women and children carrying a variety of snacks that occupied their attention more than anything else.
The sunset was still as glorious, though I suspect the sun seemed a tad wary and uncomfortable being watched by so many disinterested people while it climbed down into the hollow behind the proud upright hills. As if to show its disapproval, it chose to be covered by a dull and pale haze even before it could touch the rim of the horizon, denying us the pleasure of witnessing the bright, clear, and multi-hued sunset for which the place has been known far and wide for some time.
I don’t write poetry, a gift that comes only on account of divine grace, but that night I could not stop myself from doing so. What agitated my mind, found vent in the following string of possibly incoherent but sincere and heart-felt words.
Meeting Tamia (After a Decade)
We have met after more than a decade.
Your scarred face scares me!
Who inflicted these scars on your tender frame?
And shall a retribution ever visit this shame?
Your tranquil countenance seems.
Creased and coarsed by the fissures.
Of endless roads and crisscrossing
Labyrinths of human visitations!
Why is your glow so dimmed?
Why is the sun that lit- up
Your beautiful face with cheer
Has become so crass and insincere.
And the aura of pure air
That surrounded you all the while.
Has a tinge of poison that darkens your
Lovely aspect into glum, sans smile.
Who has troubled you so much, my love!
The assailing hordes of insensitive people?
Or the mercenaries without scruple
Relentlessly robbing away a tranquility rare and simple.
Why must humans be so inconsiderate?
Just to please their senses
Just to ensure their comfort.
Plunder your peace; abuse your virgin comport.
When I met you last, serendipity was the sentiment.
Today I find neither peace nor comfort.
Your deep, silent, pulsating bosom
Seems bruised and bled, abandoned.
Will nature ever remain the hand maiden?
A captive, a slave to our capricious avarice
Will it continue to be exploited and spoiled thoughtlessly?
Just to slake and satisfy an unreasonable and unjust lust.
And yet a flickering hope lurks, your inner glow still radiates
The beauty is fading but it could just be temporary
If only we could wait, give our greed a reprieve
And restore O! Tamia to your pristine glory.
–Uday Kumar Varma
Uday Kumar Varma, a 1976 batch IAS officer of Madhya Pradesh cadre, was Secretary Information & Broadcasting, member of the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) and member of the Broadcasting Content Complaints Council, a self-regulatory body for general entertainment channels. As Secretary I&B, he spearheaded the nationwide digitisation programme.