An injured migrant worker’s 15-year-old daughter cycled for almost 1,200 kilometres to rescue him from Delhi to Darbhanga, Bihar.
Several incidents of migrant workers dying from road accidents as they return home to their villages amidst the coronavirus lockdown in the country have emerged but Jyoti Kumari did not think twice before starting her journey.
The seventh grade student was quoted as saying by Indian media: "I did not feel very scared even while cycling at night as we used to see hundreds of migrants walking on the highways. Our only concern was road accidents, which fortunately we did not face.”
She added: "My father used to drive a rickshaw in Delhi. But he became unemployed because he had to surrender the rickshaw to its owner after the lockdown. And he also suffered a leg injury."
Kumari and her father began their journey on May 10 from Delhi after they managed to spend Rs 500 to buy a bicycle. Their journey ended on May 16 after they reached Darbhanga.
Indian English-language daily, The Times of India, quoted her as saying: "We did not have much money and the landlord pressured my father either to pay or vacate the room. No one was there to help us so we decided to return to our village. We talked to a truck driver, who demanded Rs 6,000 for bringing us from Delhi to Darbhanga, but we could not afford to pay the money. Finally, I asked my father to pillion ride on the bicycle bought with Rs 500 and we started for Darbhanga."
Talking about the long, tiresome journey she and her father made, she said: "We had only Rs 600 with us when we left Delhi. I used to cycle day and night taking breaks of two-three hours at petrol pumps during the night hours. We mostly ate food at relief camps and those offered by some good Samaritans on the way."
Indian news reports state that when the duo reached Darbhanga, the residents were in a state of surprise. They were guided not to go home but to quarantine themselves at the village library. The villagers also provided them both with food and they were screened and quarantined at Government Middle School, Sirhulli. However, Jyoti was told to stay at home for quarantine as she was the lone female inmate at the quarantine centre.
Kumari was lauded on social media for her courage.
Twitter user @rituraj_prht wrote: “A gut-wrenching story of grit and courage…”
Tweep @aftabzKARIM quoted an American philosopher after learning about Kumari’s journey: “’Shallow men believe in luck or in circumstance. Strong men believe in cause and effect.’ ~Ralph Waldo Emerson.”