Girl pedals 1,120km to bring her dad home
CYCLE FEDERATION CONTACTS THE TEEN WHO PEDALLED 1,120KM TO BRING HOME HER FATHER
Father, a migrant labourer, was injured and could barely walk
She was a 15-year-old with a simple mission: bring papa home. Jyoti Kumari and her dad had nearly no money, no transport, and their village was halfway across India. And her dad, an out-of-work migrant labourer, was injured and could barely walk.
So Jyoti told her dad: “Let me take you home.” He thought the idea was crazy but went along with it. She then jumped on a $20 (Dh73.45) purple bike bought with the last of their savings. With her dad perched on the rear, she pedalled from the outskirts of New Delhi to their home village, 1,200km away. “Don’t worry, mummy,” she told her mother along the way, using borrowed cell phones. “I will get Papa home good.”
During the past two months under India’s coronavirus lockdown, millions of migrant labourers and their families have poured out of India’s cities, desperate and penniless, as they try to get back to their native villages where they can rely on family networks to survive.
The press has seized upon this feel-good story, gushing about Jyoti the “lionhearted”.
‘I really want to go’
And a few days ago, the story got even better. While resting up in her village, Jyoti received a call from the Cycling Federation of India. Convinced she had the right stuff, Onkar Singh, the federation’s chairman, invited her to New Delhi for a tryout with the national team. “She has great talent,” he said.
Reached by phone on Friday in her village of Sirhulli, Jyoti said in a scratchy voice barely above a whisper, because she still sounded exhausted: “I’m elated, I really want to go.”
Her father, Mohan Paswan, a rickshaw driver, was injured in a traffic accident in January and was running out of money even before the lockdown.
Jyoti came out from their village in Bihar to care for Paswan. When Jyoti came up with the escape plan, her father shook his head. After they arrived in their village last weekend, her father went into a quarantine centre. Then, a few days later, on Thursday morning, she got The Call.
‘She has guts’
The Cycling Federation of India, which scouts young talent and sends the best to international competitions, including the Olympics, tracked her down through a journalist. Singh, the chairman, said he had been moved by how far she pedalled with a heavy person on the back. “And luggage,” Singh was quick to add.
The federation is planning to bring her to New Delhi,” he said. She will then do a series of cycling tests. “She has guts,” he added.
Jyoti came out from their village in Bihar to care for Paswan. When Jyoti came up with the escape plan, her father shook his head.
Jyoti carrying her injured father, Mohan Paswan, cycled around 1,120km from Gurugram to Bihar’s Darbhanga native place amid lockdown. She took over 7 days to reach her native place.
Jyoti Kumari (with face mask) and her family in front of their house in Siruhully village, Bihar, yesterday.