If what she and her family claims and what her voter identity card shows is true, she is 114. Pathumuthu (Fathima) Shahul will have her moment in the sun on April 10 when she becomes the oldest voter in Kerala, exercising her franchise at the Ambalamkunnu Anganwadi polling station in the Mavelikara Lok Sabha constituency.
Although the question whether she is the oldest voter in the State or the country might trigger a debate, the Kollam district administration has no doubt that she is the oldest voter in the district. It accorded her the respect due to a centenarian voter with District Collector Pranab Jyothinath calling on her on Saturday to familiarise her with the electronic voting machine (EVM). To his surprise, the Collector found that she is EVM-savvy.
Pathumuthu, living with her granddaughter Amina at Puthiya Thoppu, near the Punalur Paper Mills, in Kollam district, says she was four years old when the first train came chugging into the Punalur railway station in 1904.
Pathumuthu, who got married to Shahul Hamid at the age of 13, now presides over five generations comprising two children and more than 250 grandchildren and great grandchildren. Ms. Amina says her grandmother, who has been living with her for the past 24 years, voted in all elections since Independence.