Would like to meet Ivanka Trump one day, says ‘cycle girl’ Jyoti Kumari
Fifteen-year-old Jyoti Kumari, who caught global attention after she was forced to peddle a distance of nearly 1,200 km from Gurugram to Darbhanga in Bihar with her injured father riding pillion on the bicycle, has expressed her wish to one day meet US President’s daughter Ivanka Trump who had tweeted on Jyoti’s ordeal.
Speaking over the phone from her village Sirhulli, Jyoti said she did not know who Ivanka was at first, and came to know about her just recently. “I didn’t know who Ivanka was, but after her tweet some media persons told me about her. I would certainly like to meet her one day,” she said.
Senior White House adviser Ivanka on May 22 had tweeted that Jyoti’s “beautiful feat of endurance and love has captured the imagination of the Indian people and the cycling federation.”
Jyoti’s ordeal had become the talking point on social media even prompting the Cycle Federation of India (CFI) to offer her a trial at the IGI Stadium complex in New Delhi.
The 15-year-old said ever since she has got back to her village, many people have been reaching out to her. “So many people have come and visited me in the last few days. Every day there are journalists who are lined up to take my interviews. On average, I give six to seven television interviews these days,” she said.
The 15-year-old said she feels like a celebrity now, and hopes that one day a Bollywood director would make a movie on her life. “There are people who come to meet me only to get selfies.”
Stranded in Gurugram for more than two months amid the nationwide lockdown, Jyoti and her father, Mohan Paswan, had decided to leave the city on May 10. The duo bought a second-hand bicycle with the little money they had left with them, and Jyoti asked her injured father to sit on the rear seat as she set out for the arduous journey to her village in Darbhanga district.
She said playing ‘pitthu’ (seven stones—a traditional game played with a ball and stones) every day with her neighbours prepared her for the journey wherein she peddled more than 150-km daily. “As a kid I used to play pitthu which helped to strengthen my legs. When my father asked me if I could cycle back home I agreed instantly. Also, I like cycling and my father knew that I can cycle for long hours without getting tired,” she added.
Apart from the fame, the long, back-breaking journey brought her, Jyoti also has something else to be cheerful about. The Darbhanga district administration has now granted Jyoti, who had dropped out of class 8 a few years ago, admission into class 9 at a government school. “I had left school a few years ago because my family was going through financial problems, but now I have got admission in class 9. I would like to study further and finish my education,” said Jyoti, who wishes to hold a graduation degree in a few years.
The teenager and her father have been put under a 14-day quarantine by the district administration at a center in her village for now. “When Jyoti and her father set out to come home, I informed the village panchayat about them. However, everyone was scared that they might spread the coronavirus disease in case they are infected, and the panchayat decided to quarantine both of them in a nearby school,” Phula Devi, Jyoti’s mother.
Her mother, who has also shifted to the quarantine center, said that ever since Jyoti has returned from Gurugram numerous people have come forward to help their family. “We have received around ₹35,000 in donations. I never expected that we would get this sort of money amid the lockdown. There are others who have come forward, and have promised to get her a new cycle,” said Devi.
When asked about CFI’ offer, Jyoti said she would come to New Delhi after her quarantine period is over and give the trials. “I will definitely come to Delhi and give the trials. I want to compete,” she said.
Meanwhile, CFI said they will conduct a trial for Jyoti to check if she can pursue cycling at a national or international level, but it will not be an easy task. “After her quarantine period gets over we will see how she performs in the trial. Later, she will have to be trained for at least four years before she can start competing at the national level,” said Onkar Singh, chairman, CFI.