Fifteen-year-old Jyoti Kumari earned global attention after carrying her injured father (Mohan Paswan) on a bicycle as a pillion, peddling a distance of nearly 1,200 km from Gurugram to Darbhanga over a week amidst a nationwide lockdown. “If I had not undertaken this journey, my father would have died of hunger,” she says adding that her father, a rickshaw driver had met with an accident leaving them with no income and food, “Problems increased after the lockdown. Our landlord wanted to throw us out. He had even cut the power twice as we hadn’t paid the rent. Since my father had no income at all, we thought of returning home somehow.”
Speaking of her journey, Jyoti says that her father had initially doubted her capability. “I told my father that I would take him home on the cycle, but he did not agree. He repeatedly told me that I will not be able to manage it, I withdrew Rs 1000 from the bank and managed to collect Rs 500 to buy a second-hand cycle. I would ride the bike for more than 50 -60 km every day. Cycling across long bridges was challenging. We would stop at a petrol pump, spend the night there. People offered us food and drink. Whenever we could, we would hitch rides,” she says.
An official of Indian Bank hands over a demand draft of Rs 30,000 to Jyoti Kumari
Jyoti, who has been under home quarantine, caught the attention of many including Ivanka Trump, daughter of USA President Donald Trump who hailed it as an example of grit, endurance and love. She has also received a training offer from the Cycling Federation of India. “I am not aware of who Ivanka was until someone told me. I am really happy and feel proud about what Ivanka didi said. Being a woman, she understood what I have gone through. As for the federation, I will go to Delhi after the lockdown and will undergo their trial to explore the possibility of a career in cycling.”
The District Magistrate of Darbhanga has also reached Jyoti and enrolled her in class nine at the Pindaruch High School. She has also been given a brand new bicycle, school uniform and shoes for her higher education, “I had to leave my studies in eight grade but now I can go back to school. I want to study so that my father doesn’t have to migrate for work and face a similar situation again.”