Lucknow woman trudges 900 km to save daughter from Covid-19

Updated on May 10, 2020 07:12 AM IST

The 25 year-old woman is on a 900 km journey to her home in Amethi from Indore on foot, just to save her child from the dreaded corona virus.

Ruksana Bano left her husband and walked 900 kms from Indore, Madhya Pradesh to Amethi, Uttar Pradesh with her 3-year-old daughter to reach Lucknow.(Deepak Gupta/Hundustan Times)
Ruksana Bano left her husband and walked 900 kms from Indore, Madhya Pradesh to Amethi, Uttar Pradesh with her 3-year-old daughter to reach Lucknow.(Deepak Gupta/Hundustan Times)
Hindustan Times, Lucknow | ByChandan Kumar | Posted by: Shankhyaneel Sarkar

Standing beside a deserted highway on the outskirts of the state capital under the scorching May sun, Rukhsana Bano signals a passing truck for a lift. She is carrying a small bag in one hand and holds her three-year old-daughter, Nargis, on her shoulder with the other. The truck speeds away without slowing.

The 25 year-old woman is on a 900 km journey to her home in Amethi from Indore on foot, just to save her child from the dreaded corona virus.

“My daughter has not eaten since last night. I am worried about her. If we don’t get any vehicle we will continue our journey on foot,” she said, signalling towards a group of eight people (her relatives), who travelled with her to reach the safety of their home.

A native of Jagdishpur in Amethi, Rukhsana and her husband Aqib lived in Indore, Madhya Pradesh. The husband was a waiter at an eatery while Rukhsana worked as domestic help. They managed their expenses with the Rs 9,000 her husband earned and saved the Rs 3000 she earned for the future of their daughter. Rukhsana could not study beyond Class 8 but she wanted to educate Nargis.

Then came the pandemic, followed by the lockdown and the couple lost their jobs. Their meagre savings evaporated within days. Rukhsana refused to withdraw a single penny from the money she saved for her daughter. But what worried her more was the rapid spread of Covid-19 in Indore.

“Har gali mohalle se coronavirus ki kahabar aane lagi. Pura shahar band kar diya. Hum log ghar me rahe taki Nargis ko corona na ho (People in every ally were infected by Covid-19. The entire city was closed down. We stayed inside our houses to prevent Nargis from getting infected), “ she said.

Indore, known as the business hub of Madhya Pradesh, is one of the worst affected cities by Covid-19 in central India.

Some of her relatives decided to walk back home when the lockdown was extended again in April but Nargis decided to stay back, hoping things would improve. But when the lockdown was extended for the third time last week, her patience wore out. “The infection was increasing and I got worried, thinking what will we do if we or our daughter get infected. So I decided to somehow return to our family in Amethi,” she said.

But leaving Indore was not easy. Her husband of four years decided to stay and refused to accompany her. Rukhsana tried to persuade him but later decided to head home to save her child from the possibility of infection. She joined a group of relatives returning to Amethi, packed some biscuits, jam and clothes in a bag and left home.

The group started walking from Indore on Wednesday night. After a lift on two trucks and a tractor and walking for over 24 hours, they reached Lucknow on Saturday. The journey took a toll on their bodies. All of them had blisters on their feet and looked exhausted and famished.

After cleaning their wounds and a brief halt under a thorny bush along the roadside, the group decided to hit the road again. Their frail tired bodies began walking on the road again, Rukhsana with her child in front of the group. She covered Nargis with a piece of cloth as she braved the sun, realising that this journey was only a part of the hardships she would have to face to raise her daughter.

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