India’s ‘bicycle girl’ Jyoti Kumari, who was forced to pedal some 1,300 km to Dharbhanga in Bihar from Gurugram in Delhi with her injured father Mohan Paswan as pillion rider due to the extended lockdown, is just a very tired teenager right now.
Not particularly enthused by the worldwide admiration that has come her way as news of her remarkable journey has gone viral, the 15-year-old has turned down an offer from the Cycling Federation of India (CFI) to go for trials as a trainee at the National Cycling Academy in New Delhi, saying she wants to focus on education.
Chairman of Cycling Federation of India (CFI) Omkar Singh, said, “We’re impressed as well as amazed at Jyoti’s pedalling capacity as she covered a distance of 1,300 kms within a week on a bicycle with her father. The CFI has decided to give her a chance to prove her mettle.”
Omkar added, “We just want to call her for trials for her selection as a trainee… she will be tested on computerised bikes.”
But for Jyoti, studies are her top priority.
“Earlier, I could not continue my school education because of my family problem and I was occupied with the domestic work…but now I wish to complete my matriculation first,” she told The Hindu over phone from Sirhulli .
“I also feel physically weak now after such a long arduous journey.”
Jyoti had gone to Gurugram with her mother and brother-in-law at the end of January after her father broke his leg in an accident while driving his e-rickshaw. “Her mother and brother-in-law returned to the village but she remained to look after me,” Paswan recalled.
Following the extended lockdown, however, the father and daughter were left with little option when their landlord asked them to vacate their room.
“Jyoti suggested we too should leave for our village, like others…but we had no money… she bought a second hand bicycle from a neighbour and asked me to sit on it and we set off on our journey on May 10,” he said.
Though, they did manage to hitch rides on trucks and tractors for stretches across Uttar Pradesh, Jyoti cycled for long hours on the seven-day journey to reach home on May 16.