Kesavan Nair, believed to be the oldest person in Kerala, dies at 119

Kesavan Nair was witness to the freedom struggle and survived two pandemics during his lifetime.
Kesavan Nair
Kesavan Nair

He witnessed two pandemics, lived under the Travancore rule, saw the freedom struggle, Mahatma Gandhi’s demise and many more historic events of the 20th and early 21st centuries. On Wednesday, Kerala native Kesavan Nair, widely considered to be the oldest man in Kerala, passed away in Kollam. He was 119. 

A native of Pattazhy Vadakkekara village in the Pathanapuram block, Kesavan Nair S popularity was a relatively recent one. His Aadhar card says that he was born on January 1, 1901 and since the last two years, he has been receiving media attention due to his age.

“He was a Nilathezhuthu Ashan, or what can be considered a pre-primary school teacher back in the day. Kesavan Nair used to teach young kids how to write the Malayalam alphabets on a bed of rice or sand. All his life, he lived in Pattazhy Vadakkekara,” says KB Sajeev, President of Pathanapuram Block Panchayat and native of Pattazhy Vadakkekara. 

At the time of death, Kesavan Nair was living with his 72-year-old daughter in the village. “He was a very healthy man with no comorbidities. His death is mainly due to his age,” Sajeev added. Kesavan Nair’s funeral was held on Wednesday. 

In 2020, even as he lost most of his teeth owing to age, a surprise tooth grew from his empty gums. In earlier reports, Kesavan Nair had also recounted his journey to meet Gandhi during the freedom struggle, back in the day. He has also taught hundreds of students the Malayalam alphabet in his lifetime. 

According to a previous interview, the 119-year old had said that the secret to his longevity was his lack of attachment to things. He also regularly practiced Yoga and Pranayama (breathing exercises). 

“He could be among the oldest people in India. However is it all unofficial as he has not appeared in the Guinness book or any other records. Now media houses have covered his demise and there is a fair bit of work going on to find out if he is indeed the oldest person to have lived in India,” Sajeev added. 

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