SRINAGAR: Under the blistering sun, Mohammad Arif set-off on an arduous journey from Mumbai on a second-hand bicycle to meet his ailing father at Rajouri.
A loaf of bread, Rs 800 cash and a small rucksack is all he is having, but the determination to fulfill his father’s last wish is driving him to stay the course.
“I got a call in the afternoon that my father has suffered a hemorrhage after he was attacked by relatives. He was shifted to hospital where his condition is stated to be critical. I called him but he only wants to see me for the last time,” Arif told The Kashmir Monitor.
Working as a watchman in Mumbai Central, the 29-year-old had arrived in the Maximum City just a month ago to start his life afresh after spending 11 months in jail at Abu Dhabi.
“I was working as a driver in Abu Dhabi when I met with an accident. I did not have documents and I was jailed for 11 months. I returned home one and a half years ago. Last month I came to Mumbai to start life afresh”, he said.
With the entire country locked down and public transport off the roads, he decided to cycle all the way from Mumbai to meet his father who is on the death bed.
“I did not own a cycle. I paid Rs 500 to one of the fellow watchmen to borrow one. I have no idea when will I reach. But I am determined to continue my journey come what may. I could not find any other means because there is a curfew and no vehicle is plying”, he said.
Father of three kids, he had to suffer in his personal life too. “My wife is living with her parents. My kids are also staying with her. My eldest child is 11 years old. Though she lives just adjacent to my house, we are poles apart”, he said.
Seeing his plight, concerned residents of Mumbai have launched a campaign on social media to help Arif. “I tried to persuade him but he was adamant to go. Now we request everyone to help him out. He is just carrying a loaf of bread and a water bottle. He was adding layers of cloth for some comfort. I request people to contribute so that his sufferings are alleviated to some extent”, said Dipesh Tank, a social activist