A 15-year-old girl has been offered a try-out with the Indian Cycling Federation after cycling her injured father 1,200km home.
Jyoti Kumari cycled for seven days with her father Mohan Paswan riding pillion, in order to get from where her father had been working back to their home village.
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Her father had been living in Gurugram, a city just outside New Delhi in the north of the country, but was plunged into poverty after an accident earlier in the year. His landlord, who Paswan hadn’t paid rent to for a few months, then gave him an ultimatum to either pay up or vacate the property.
“I succeeded in buying time on a couple of occasions. I promised him that I would take up whatever job I could land once the lockdown was lifted, earn money, and pay the debt. We were so hard pressed that I had to forego my medicine so that we could afford one square meal a day. How could we have arranged money for rent?” Paswan told the Press Trust of India, reported in the Hindustan Times.
As India’s lockdown was extended as the country battled the coronavirus, the landlord’s threats became more severe. Paswan’s daughter Jyoti had travelled to Gurugram to look after her father while her mother, who was also working as a healthcare assistant, took care of her four younger siblings back in the home village of Darbhanga in Bihar, located to the east of the country and bordering Nepal.
Kumari then suggested the pair travel home by bicycle, which her father tried to unsuccessfully dissuade her from.
“Amid the gloomy situation, Jyoti suggested that we return home. I pointed out that we would not be able to find any trains or buses soon and my condition would not allow me to walk. She said we should get a bicycle,” Paswan explained.
After the story made its way into India’s newspapers, India’s cycling federation took notice and have decided to give Kumari a trial next month.
Ivanka Trump, senior advisor to the President of the United States, her father Donald Trump, tweeted the story, calling Kumari’s ride a “beautiful feat of endurance and love”.
“The journey back home has been nothing short of a pilgrimage. Having arrived feels like salvation,” said Paswan.