Tabassum Ali, 38, from Bihar has chosen a difficult route to hammer the dignity of single women in India. She is biking across the length and breadth of the country to create awareness in society and motivate single women, who struggle for their independent outlook in the taboo ridden society.
“I am single. I learnt cycling two years back. Now I am driving a bike in the toughest of areas. I want to tell people that single women can survive alone,” Tabassum told The Statesman.
She reached Shimla a few days ago, covering Chapra, Sewan, Varanasi, Mirzapur, Kanpur, parts of Uttarakhand. She was en route to Manali and then J&K.
Tabassum decided to set a world record by covering a distance of 45000 kilometres in 80 days to create awareness on wheels. She started on 14 October. What makes her indomitable spirit to achieve the target for social cause evident is the fact that after meeting an accident on Ludhiana highway last week that broke the continuity in her journey, she has made up her mind to start afresh.
“So far I have just covered 5000 kilometres on a bike across five states. In the accident, I fractured my hand and the doctor has told me to take rest. Never mind. I will start from Patna (from zero again) again after I am fine and visit the places, which I had to leave earlier due to some reasons,” she said.
Tabassum said she had not been able to go to Leh Ladakh from Manali due to snow on Rohtang Pass. “Maybe in the second attempt, I will be able to go there,” she said.
There is, however, a background to Tabassum’s will to build up the image of single women. “I have myself suffered a lot due to the orthodox mindset that undermines the capacities of single women. People have problems even if a woman manages alone. My purpose is to motivate single women,” she said.
She shared that as per the 2011 census, there are over seven crore single women in India and they are struggling in their own way, some financially, others socially.
Tabassum has drawn linkages with various organisations working for the cause in different states, who help her reach out to people for interaction on way.
A graduate in Psychology, Tabassum hails from Jamui district in Bihar and was born in a conservative Muslim family. “My father was in Railways. But the family did not focus on the education or independence of girls. I wanted to get an education, do a job. So I just ran away after passing out 12th, and reached Delhi to build a life on my own.,” she said.
“I saw many ups and downs in life. I got married and then got separated also. Since 2013, besides my own job, I started working as a volunteer for social work in Patna. My parents have also accepted me now as an independent woman,” Tabassum added.
She said the motto of her life is to create awareness among different sections of society, especially youth.
Tabassum had gone cycling across the country, covering 12800 kilometers to help out a young woman generate funds for mountaineering.