Some of our adventures at times are the storytellers of our self. A self that might have faced a thousand of hurdles and societal pressures to realize those dreams at last, that ultimately become a personal statement. Meet Moksha Jetley, the 53 year old woman from Hoshiarpur, whose story might just inspire thousands of those women who live under some kind of overwhelming patriarchal surveillance every day.
There might be many people in India who would have travelled from Kanyakumari to Ladakh on their bikes. Every year, the roads that connect Kanyakumari to Leh get filled up with bikers whose ambition is to cover the vast terrain of India on their two wheels. However, the same journey is quite different for this woman. What makes her ambition to cross the terrain different from others is her personal story. Moksha Jetley was married young and soon found that she had one more soul to nurture within her womb. The things got worse as she became the victim of domestic violence over the demand for a male child.
Her desire to not submit before the congealed forms of patriarchy became one of her weapons to leave her marriage and take care of her child in the best way possible. In her own words, "That time in Chandigarh taught me that a woman trying to earn her living all by herself was a concept men didn't have the easiest time wrapping their heads around. Not that I had any regrets.”
After years of dedicated motherhood, she decided to take on to her passion of riding on a bike at an age when most of the women in India just think of handing over their responsibilities. Her personal battle against her own husband and in laws became a battle on road to overpower any obstacle that would belittle personal dignity and strength. "It was just amazing to see so much subconscious retaliation-that surfaced in the form of reprimand, casual comments that were supposed to belittle me and disbelief-by the men (and some women) around me."
Having completed the Leh-Manali strip in 20 hours and 20 minutes, she became the proud owner of Limca book of records, which is a matter of dream for many men bikers in India. "In fact, Limca Book of Records stands proof of the fact that I am the first woman biker to have completed the Leh-Manali strip in 20 hours and 20 minutes."
Her journey across Himalayas might just inspire those women in India who just wish to come out of the clutches of patriarchy. Her story encourages many women to leave the idea of always relying on a man for her sustenance and realization of her dreams. Infact, her perusal of her passion is a reminiscent of the fact that most of the passions might just come true as you come out of the strong societal pressures. "It's been seven years since I've been organising biking tours for foreign tourists who share my love for adventure. Though we tour the Himalayas mostly, I've done expeditions from Kanyakumari to Leh-with my loyal friend, the Royal Enfield 350."
Through her ride across India, Jetley cultivates that strong desire in us to follow our dreams and to travel alone, without that patriarchal network to help or discourage us at times! "I'm here to tell you that you are your entire world. Though we all look for companionship, I don't know why we are lead to believe that only a man can provide us with that and make our life "whole". Find what completes you and stick to it-in my case it was Prachi and my passion."
Finally, some lines from her that would state what the solo women travelers, even in their terms of societal journey can do to help themselves. "It is not going to be easy, but a few years down the line, when your endurance becomes your best friend, you'd know you've arrived."
Moksha Jetley's Bike 'N' Beyond organizes biking tours for foreign tourists in India.
The story was originally published on India Today.