Bihar Girl Cycles 1,200 Km Home With Injured Father As Pillion

In March, the teen from Bihar had gone to Gurgaon to visit her father Mohan Paswan after an accident left him unable to continue with his job of driving an e-rickshaw.

Jyoti Kumari cycled for 7 days, going almost hungry for two of those, before she reached Bihar

New Delhi:

Jyoti Kumari, 15, cycled almost 1,200 km with her father riding pillion, to reach home in the coronavirus lockdown.

From Gurgaon near Delhi, she cycled for seven days, going almost hungry for two of those, before she reached Bihar.

Impressed with her endurance, the Indian Cycling Federation has decided to invite Jyoti to trials next month, which gives her a chance to turn her life around.

In March, the teen from Bihar had gone to Gurgaon to visit her father Mohan Paswan after an accident left him unable to continue with his job of driving an e-rickshaw.

Then the country went into lockdown to fight the global pandemic.

Jyoti was forced to stay with her father. With no job, no money and with the landlord threatening to throw them out, the father-daughter duo was staring at starvation.

"I was able to buy some time. I promised the landlord I would take up whatever job I could once the lockdown was lifted, earn money and pay all his dues. I had to discontinue my medicines so we could afford one meal a day," Mr Paswan said.

His wife, Jyoti's mother, stays in their village back in Bihar, where her four younger siblings also stay. Her mother, an Aanganwadi worker, pawned jewellery to raise Rs 15,000 to help her father.

Jyoti decided to head back to her hometown Darbhanga in Bihar, but not without her father.

She first borrowed money to buy a cycle. There was no option, she believed, since trains and buses were not running and her father couldn't walk.

Mr Paswan says he tried to dissuade his daughter, telling her that riding a bicycle with a much heavier pillion rider was not easy. But Jyoti insisted and he gave in.

"I left everything to fate," he said.

Jyoti said they would cycle for 30 to 40 km a day and sometimes, an odd truck driver would agree to take them aboard.

"It was unbearably tiring. We would stop for food at places where we could see free food being distributed among people like us," Jyoti shared.

"It must have taken eight days... and then, here we were! Back home!" she said, forgetting details in her fatigue.

Local media compared her to Shravan Kumar from the epic Ramayana, the boy who carried his old parents in baskets tied to a pole balanced on his shoulder when they desired to go on a pilgrimage.

"She is indeed my Shravan Kumar. The journey back home has been nothing short of a pilgrimage," Mr Paswan said.

Her story also travelled to the national cycling body. "If she has achieved this, then she is really talented. We would like to give her an opportunity. We look for talent like this. If an international cyclist rides 100 km in a day, then it is called good training," said VN Singh, Director of the Cycling Federation.

Jyoti, a hero in her village, has tugged at many hearts. A group of jawans called on her and gave her Rs 5,000 cash.

A senior official in Darbhanga said: "When her quarantine is over, we will definitely help Jyoti." He said to begin with, the state government would ensure her admission in Class 9 and also help her financially.

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