From her village in eastern India, 15-year-old Jyoti Kumari reflected on her desperate 1,200-kilometer (745-mile) bicycle journey home with her disabled father that has drawn international praise.
"I had no other option," she said Sunday. "We wouldn’t have survived if I hadn’t cycled to my village.”
Kumari said that she and her father risked starvation had they stayed in Gurugram, a suburb of New Delhi, with no income amid India's coronavirus lockdown.
Her father, whose injury in an accident left him unable to walk, had earned a living by driving an auto-rickshaw. But with all nonessential travel banned, he found himself among millions of newly unemployed. Their landlord demanded rent they couldn’t pay and threatened to evict them, Kumari said.
So she decided to buy a bicycle and, like thousands of other Indian migrant workers have done since March, make her way home.
As the temperature climbed, Kumari pedaled for 10 days, with her father riding on the back of the hot-pink bike. They survived on food and water given by strangers, and only once did Kumari give her legs a break with a short lift on a truck.
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