By Ahsam KR
“I’m close to 100 years in age. This tree was there when I first came here, so it must be more than 100 years old,” Dr Kesavan Nayar told me when I asked him about the Muthassi Maram in the grounds of Government Victoria College, his alma mater.
Dr TK Kesavan Nayar – he always wrote ‘Nayar’ and not ‘Nair’ as how it is usually put – passed away on 14 March, 2018, after his health deteriorated in the last few months.
He was 100 and, till his end, he held his stethoscope close.
He was an optimist and an optimal person. When asked about his longevity and health, he had talked about eating optimally – his mantra was, “leave some space in your stomach after every meal, do not fill it to the maximum”.
His optimism was so visible in the way he laid the foundation for so many institutions and organizations in a town like Palakkad, where you are sure to be met with dissent when a new idea is proposed.
His capability and sincerity could have taken him places; he remained in his hometown and served his fellow people, initially without a choice and later out of his own choice.
He was an honorary doctor at the Palghat District Hospital for 21 long years, and he refused to receive any payment for the same.
He placed the first brick in place for the IMA chapter of Palakkad, the Lions Club of Palghat, the Palghat Lions School, the Bhavans Vidya Mandir at Chithali, the Community Health Centre at Puduppariyaram and many more, some of which didn’t take shape fully.
During his final years, he was very much involved in his own practice at Sreedevi Clinic, Koppam, and the Palakkad Cultural and Educational Council. His loyal clientele never left him for another doctor; his treatment was always non-invasive and with so much consideration for the patient as a person and not just another case.
Sometimes, he could just diagnose the ailments by simply looking at the condition of the patients and the external symptoms displayed.
Through the Palakkad Cultural and Educational Council, he made available scholarships and financial assistance to deserving students across the district, and thus aided, in his own way, to improving the educational scenario of his town.
Dr TK Kesavan Nayar was born to Thelakkat Kalathilthodiyl Sridevi Amma and Koduvayur Vadakkeppat Thenju Nayar in 1918, at Kunduvampadam, Peringode Amsomin Kongad Panchayath of Palakkad Taluk.
He studied at the Koduvayur High School and joined for Intermediate at Government Victoria College in 1935. He graduated in Medicine from Madras Medical College in 1944.
After working as House Surgeon for one year at General Hospital and six months at Government RSRM Lying In Hospital, Royapuram, he started his independent practice in February, 1946, at Palakkad.
He also joined the Taluk Hospital as Honorary Medical Officer.
He was a doyen in the field of medicine as well as social service, and for me, personally, his demise is a great loss.
His words still ring in my ears, “The rich are the guardians of the poor.”
The author is a faculty member at Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Bangalore, and has made a documentary about Dr TK Kesavan Nayar.