Editorial Reviews. About the Author. Born in in undivided India, Milkha Singh joined the army in Arguably, India s best male athlete, he received the. Milkha Singh has led a life dominated by running, running, running From a boy who narrowly escaped death during Partition (most of his family was not so. The Race of My Life by Milkha Singh and Sonia Sanwalka - Download as PDF File .pdf), Text File .txt) or read online. mikha.
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Free PDF The Race of My Life: An Autobiography, by Milkha Singh. After downloading the soft documents of this The Race Of My Life: An. The Race of My Life: An Autobiography is the autobiography of Indian athlete Milkha Singh, . Print/export. Create a book · Download as PDF · Printable version. The Race of My Life book. Read 86 reviews from the world's largest community for readers. Authored By: Milkha Singh, Sonia SanwalkaForeword By: Rakeysh.
The director, too, did a great a job. Also, the dialogues and the lyrics by Prasoon Joshi are brilliant. There was nothing which I felt should be changed in the movie, it was perfect.
Records in Pakistan note it as November 20, Other records note it as October 17, and November 20, The birthdate is written November 20, , on his passport.
Rupa Publications. It was reserved for ladies, and soon some burqa-clad women entered. When they saw me they tried to raise a hue and cry, thinking that I was a thief, but I fell at their feet with folded hands, and begged them to save my life by not revealing my presence to the authorities.
My pathetic plight evoked their pity and they allowed me to remain in their compartment Back at Kot Addu, Makhan collapsed when he heard the news about the villages annihilation. During his period of confinement, his commanding officer CO in Multan had made repeated telephone calls to the police to free his men.
But when he received no response, he arrived in Kot Addu with two trucks filled with soldiers to secure their release and take them to Gobindpura. As Makhan, his CO and the other jawans entered the village, the sight before them was terrible to behold and the stench overpowering.
The fields were soaked with blood and decomposing bodies lay scattered around, a feast for vultures and dogs.
The Race of My Life: An Autobiography
Identification of the dead was almost impossible, and in desperation, the soldiers placed all the bodies, including those of my family, in one big heap, poured kerosene over them and cremated them. More than fifteen hundred villagers perished on that fateful day in Gobindpura. It had taken just a few hours to annihilate my family, home and native village. When I reached Multan, I went straight from the station to my brothers quarters in the army barracks. His wife, Jeet, was there and we both waited eagerly for Makhan to return from Kot Addu.
It took him about three or four days to get back to Multan. I broke down and wept inconsolably upon seeing him standing at the door. We hugged each other tightly and kept crying for a very long time.
Then he gave us the full story about his confinement in jail and the gory massacre in my village. I had lost everything I cared forit was the end of my childhood. As the days went by, we heard other terrible accounts about what was happening all around us, and it seemed obvious that we would no longer be safe in Multan. Finally, an official order was circulated stating that the families of all Hindu and Sikh armed forces personnel in what was now Pakistan were to be evacuated to India immediately.
The regiments were asked to stay on until further notice. Jeet and I, along with other families, boarded a military truck for a long, eight-hour drive to the HussainiwalaFerozepur border. It was a silent journey. We were all displaced people who had lost what had mattered most in our lives, and an uncertain future lay ahead of us. How would we start anew? How would we put down roots in a land we knew so little about? My mind was still numb due to the enormity of the tragedy and I had no clue how to pick up the pieces of my shattered life.
We were all in the same boat, searching for survivors or finding shelter. After days of aimless loitering, I came upon a dilapidated house abandoned by a Muslim family.
Though we had some sort of a roof over our heads, it was almost impossible to find food that would feed the two of us. But the lack of money had made me resourceful. I made frequent forays into the army barracks, where I would polish shoes or do some other menial chores for the soldiers, in exchange for leftover or discarded dal and rotis, which I would take back to share with Jeet. On some days we went to sleep hungry. We had by now lost all contact with Makhan, who was still in Pakistan with his regiment, but there was little time to worrywe had other, more immediate problems to cope with.
At the end of August, the swollen Sutlej river that runs through Ferozepur overflowed its banks and the city was swept by devastating floods. Jeet and I managed to save ourselves by climbing on to the roof of a submerged house, but what little possessions we had with us were washed away.
By now I had had enough of Ferozepur and was very keen to leave and move to Delhi, where, I had heard, that it was easy to find jobs. Clinging to one another, we waded through the floodwaters towards the railway station. Once again, a sea of humanity surrounded us.
There was absolute chaos at the station with people moving this way and that with no sense of direction. Getting to Delhi was my priority, but the refugee trains were so overcrowded that it was almost impossible to find a seat. Luckily, Jeet managed to squeeze into the ladies compartment, but I could only find place on the roof. From my elevated position I could see caravans of men, women and children, some on foot, some on bullock carts, cycles or any mode of transport, moving towards India or Pakistan.
It was a heart-rending sight, this mass migration of people who had lost loved ones, homes and belongings in what must be one of the greatest tragedies of history.
Memories of those bloodthirsty events of that August still haunt me. I had lost most of my family, and yet, I recall the kindness of the ladies on the train. Although I bemoaned my lost childhood, I also knew that I had to find the strength and courage to face whatever lay ahead.
Once we reached Old Delhi railway station, we, like thousands of other refugees, were stranded on the platform with no clue of where to go or what to do. We had no money or contacts, so I teamed up with a couple of other boys to try to find work, but we soon discovered that in those unsettled days, people were wary of employing refugees.
Finally, I found a cleaning job in a shop at Ajmeri Gate, which would give me a salary of ten rupees. Jeet and I spent a few chaotic days at the station, mingling with the other displaced people; we were always scared about what would become of us, where would we go. I can still remember how desperate people were and the intense hunger that would drive them to grab the free food distributed by charitable trustsit was like vultures attacking their prey.
When we had arrived, we had registered our names at one of the help desks in the hope that we would find some members of our families. Throughout the day and night, regular announcements were made, giving the names and whereabouts of relatives. It was then that I heard that my sister, Isher, her husband and his family, had survived the holocaust and were living in Shahdara.
When we reached their house, the family reunion was tearful and poignant. At last we had found some family members who were alive and a place to stay. My joy was short-lived, however. I had barely been in that house a few days when I saw how badly Isher was being treated by her in-laws, particularly her mother-in-law, an enormously fat lady, who would sit on a manjee cot all day, issuing orders to Isher.
Jeet, on the other hand, was treated with great respect; she was the only daughter among seven brothers and her husband was in the army, which was regarded as a steady profession in those days. It hadnt taken her long to forget our recent hardships and the bond we had shared travelling from Multan to Delhi.
My poor sister worked like an unpaid maid in that house, waking up at 4 a. At the same time, she was a dutiful wife and would present her husband with a child at regular intervals. It was a large family, in keeping with the times, and my sister had to labour from morning to night to keep them happy, but they were never satisfied, and even if she made the slightest mistake, they would thrash her mercilessly. Their unkindness and ingratitude upset me deeply, but there was little I could do to stop them.
I kept hoping Makhan would come back and save his sister. As the days passed, I soon realized that I was not welcome. Jeets family constantly taunted and mocked me by saying that I was a useless, good-for-nothing fellow, who could only sit around all day and eat their food; that I should go out and fend for myself rather than being a burden on them. It reached such a point that I was given only one meal a day. I would then remember my mother and how she would feed her husband, children and extended family with what little was available.
I missed her so much that I would sit and cry, indulging in bouts of self-pity at my helplessness. Isher was deeply distressed by my plight and would surreptitiously give me a couple of rotis, whispering, Bhaag ja, bhaag, if they find out they will beat me.
These I would eat with salt or an onion, as I was not allowed any dal or vegetables. By now we had heard that Makhan and his unit were back in India, but we had no idea where he was. The situation at home had made me so unhappy that my health deteriorated. Yet, on some days I reverted to being a carefree lad againracing trains, flying kites or laughing and cracking jokes with my friends.
I would have liked to have resumed my education, but there was no money to pursue that avenue. It was at this time that I had my first infatuation. I was just seventeen and the object of my fancy was the beautiful fifteen-year-old who lived next door.
In those days, the mohalla had only one municipality water tap and everyone lined up there to fill their buckets. Thats where I first saw her. She was standing behind me and I offered to let her fill her bucket before me. That day onwards, I tried to help her in small ways, by allowing her to take my place in the queue, or carrying the bucket back to the house. But we were so young and innocent, and there was little else I could think of to further the romance other than waiting to catch a glimpse.
We would look at each other when she left for school, or when she went up to her terrace, or when she stepped out of the house on errands. I would talk incessantly about her to my friends. Finally, I decided to pour my heart out and sent her a letter written in Hindi, wrapped in a ball which I threw on to the terrace of her home.
To my delight, she reciprocated my feelings. Our romance took wings, but our flight did not last long. I still vividly remember the day when I had taken her for a walk after school finished. It seemed magical. We lost track of time and she reached home late. Her parents found out about us and were furious. She was thrashed and locked up in a room.
She also stopped going to school. Soon after, her parents got her married off.
I was heartbroken. The following eight or nine months that I spent in limbo were the worst times of my life. It was also a period that I am still deeply ashamed of. As was inevitable, I fell into bad company, and began to gamble.
There was no elder or role model to give me advice or direction or to supervise my actions. As a result, my life went rapidly downhill.
My friends and I would indulge in all kind of nefarious activities. We would steal bags of sugar or rice from the goods trains that were standing at Shahdara railway station and sell them at cheaper rates at the local bazaar.
But the thefts were soon discovered and reported to the police, who began to keep a close watch at the station. One day they caught us in the act, and though some of the boys were arrested, I ran so fast that I managed to escape the dragnet. Fate, however, had other plans for me. In , I was travelling by a local train from Shahdara to Delhi without a ticket, a jaunt I had successfully managed several times before.
But as luck would have it, this time I was arrested and brought before a magistrate who stipulated that I either pay a jurmana of fifteen rupees or go to jail. I had not a penny, let alone fifteen rupees, and was thus sentenced to three months rigorous imprisonment. I was deeply humiliated when the constables handcuffed me and threw me in jail. It was only after a couple of days that I managed to send word to Isher.
She secretly sold her gold earrings and paid the fine. I was released, after spending ten days in the company of thieves and dacoits. Often, while in jail, I would get so dejected that I seriously thought of becoming a feared dacoit after my stint behind bars. Nothing had changed in the house in the ten days that I was in jail. Isher was working as hard as she always did, and the newly instituted rewards for her were regular beatings.
I was still humiliated by my stint behind bars and would sit around the house moping. Then we heard the news that Makhan had been posted at Delhis Red Fort.
THE RACE OF MY LIFE An Autobiography
When he came to visit us, I fell upon him in desperation, bombarding him with tales of our troubles, and about how harshly his wifes family treated Isher.
Although he was a hen-pecked husband, completely dominated by his wife, he did try to make an effort to ease the situation during the short time he stayed with us in Shahdara. But his military duties prevented him from being in the house all day, and the ill treatment never really stopped. One day, all my pent-up frustration and anger erupted at the sight of Isher being violently abused yet again.
I went into Jeets room, picked up Makhans gun, which he had forgotten to take with him, brought it out and aimed it at Ishers in-laws.
I said menacingly, Khabardar, agar meri behen ko phir se haath lagaya to jaan se maar doonga! If you dare to touch my sister again, I will kill you all. They looked at me with fear, and I would like to believe that the beatings became less frequent after that incident.
While Makhan was in Delhi he managed to get me admitted in the local school, but it had been more than a year since I had looked at a book and I found it difficult to concentrate on my studies. Regretfully, I must admit, I could not renounce my bad habits and was back on the streets again, in the company of delinquents.
When my brother discovered my truancy, he would beat me. Despite the thrashings Makhan tried hard to find me a vocation, but before a suitable job could materialize, he was transferred to Jhansi and I was back to my bad old ways. Somehow, deep within me, I knew that I wanted to lead a better, more productive life. I yearned to join the army, but it was and there were thousands of unemployed refugees who had the same ambition. Hopeful young boys like me would throng the recruitment centres, but there were too many of us and too few vacancies to fill.
I was rejected two or three times. At my first attempt at the recruitment centre in Red Fort, I was one of almost five hundred lads who had queued up, waiting for our turn to come. Then, we were asked to stand in line in our shorts, where we were weighed.
Thereafter, the medical officer asked me to run a hundred yards, after which I was asked to expand my chest and my chest measurements were taken. A cross was then marked on my chest and I was informed that I was not fit enough to be recruited.
At that time my height was 5 feet 9 inches, and my weight 65 kilograms. Dejected but not defeated, I tried again but with the same outcome. To occupy myself and earn some money, I began to work as an apprentice at a rubber factory, with a salary of fifteen rupees a month. I would hand my wages over to Jeets parents only to receive in return dry rotis and onions for my morning meal.
The poor diet and miserable work conditions ultimately had an impact on my health and I was seriously ill for almost two months. Makhan was now posted in Kashmir and I gave him an ultimatum that he must get me recruited into the army if he did not want me to give the family a bad name.
In November , with my brothers recommendation, I was selected at the armys recruitment camp held in Kashmir. I was overjoyed. The other new recruits and I were taken by military transport to Srinagar and then on to Pathankot. Time governed every minute of our waking hours, and besides our duties out of doors, we had to make our beds, wash our mugs and plates and store them, with all our other possessions, in a tin trunk under our beds.
We would rise every morning at 5 a. After breakfast, we returned to the ground where we had daily drills on how to march smartly and in tandem with our fellow soldiers. The rest of the morning was spent performing several military duties, including practising shooting at the firing range. What we all dreaded most was fatigue duty, which meant the non-military duties we had to do every day like digging trenches, building roads, gardening, peeling potatoes, washing utensils in the mess, polishing senior officers shoes and other types of manual labour.
If a jawan disobeyed orders or was unruly, he was made to do push-ups and front and back rolls. The harsher punishments were running around the grounds carrying a knapsack full of rocks on the back or the threat of being sent to the quarter-guard or army jail.
Our days were long and very tiring and we all looked forward to relaxing in the recreational room to play carom, read or just sit around and chat or listen to the radio. Each night, just before lights out, there was the final roll call for the day to check if all were present and accounted for.
Our salary then was thirty-nine rupees a month, of which it was compulsory to send ten rupees home. The balance went towards paying the dhobi, tailor and canteen charges. What little was left over we spent watching movies. The training was so rigorous and the regime so strict that often I would despair that I couldnt cope and wanted to run away. Some lads from my group had done so because they couldnt cope with the rigours.
Whenever such thoughts came to my mind I would recall my early hardships, and think: army life may be tough, but it is better than the sufferings I had endured earlier. Then a fortunate incident changed the course of my life. One Saturday morning, after roll call, there was an announcement that a six-mile race was to be held the next day, and the top ten, out of some five hundred recruits who participated, would be exempted from fatigue duty and would also be given an extra glass of milk every day.
This was in January That night, my Punjabi friends and I could talk of nothing else but the forthcoming race. Our other competitors would be the units recruits from all over India and we had all unanimously decided that we could not let the Bengalis, Biharis or Tamilians defeat usour izzat would be threatened if that happened.
I barely slept that nightI was so excited, but at the same time, apprehensive. When the day dawned, all of us recruits, wearing our canvas shoes and khaki vests and shorts, reported at the starting line. Filled with a sense of mission, I ran with great gusto and took the lead in the first two or three miles.
When I would feel tired I would stop, rest for a while, and start running again when I saw that the other boys were catching up. Luck was on my side that day and I came sixth in the race. At roll call that night, my name was announced before a large gathering of almost three hundred recruits. Friends, and even strangers, wildly applauded and thumped me on my back, screaming, Shahbash! I was overwhelmed with joy by the attention I receivedthis moment was the starting point of my career as an athlete.
Our instructor was a former runner called Havaldar Gurdev Singh, who had been with the army for about fifteen years.
Mita de apni hasti ko agar koi martaba chahe,
Although his task was to train new recruits, he was a good runner and continued to participate in races. This time he was there to ensure that the ten of us would run six miles each day, after which we would be given that promised glass of milk.
For me this was a treat after all those years of deprivation. Gurdev was a taciturn, no-nonsense kind of man, whose tough exterior hid his softer, gentler side. He would run with us during our training period, prodding us with his danda stick , shouting abuses: Haramzadon bhaago! He would use the same stick to hit the ground in anger or frustration if we were being careless, calling us dangar di aulad.
But that was his way of motivating and encouraging us. I strongly believe that he was instrumental in motivating me to strive to become a world-class athlete. Even today when I think of his danda and volley of abuses, I respectfully bow my head in tribute to a great teacher.
Six weeks later, the Centre held a cross-country race. In this event, Gurdev came first and I second. Suddenly I became the cynosure of all eyes.
I was twenty or twenty-one at that time, but looked much younger. A couple of weeks later, I was asked to take part in the Brigade Meet in which all the units stationed in the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad were participating. I was very surprised when they asked me run in the metre event, mainly because I did not know what metres meant, as I had always run six miles. I watched the trailer few years back when it was released but didn't know that it's based upon a true story.
I didn't know anything about the great athlete Mr. Milkha Singh. Perhaps the best athlete produced by this sub continent, won 77 competition races out of He was reckoned as the storm of sixties.
Though he broke the previous records of Olympic m, in Rome Olympic unfortunately he failed to grab the gold medal and h First I watched the movie, then intrigued for the autobiography. Though he broke the previous records of Olympic m, in Rome Olympic unfortunately he failed to grab the gold medal and he repents still for that day! Milkha Sigh bears the indelible scar of partition, he was born,raised up in a village of Pakistan Punjab. In , bigots killed his parents,cousins and all the other family members.
He escaped a narrow death while others were being slaughtered in front of his eyes. He heard the scream of his father,'Bhaag Milkha, Bhaag! The synonym of partition is agony, Mr. Milkha is carrying one of these millions of the untold stories.
Highly motivating book it is, this is the saga of a refugee who becomes a world wide celebrity by his endeavor, determination and diligence. Almost everything is possible, the fact is how determined you are to get it. His prose is facile, he delivered a vivid,racy anecdotes to his readers. His romantic affair with his wife Mrs.Milkha is carrying one of these millions of the untold stories. And then we were airborne. I only knew that I had become such a threat that people thought the only way to prevent me from winning was by breaking my legs.
I was completely uninterested in studying, and felt that it was something I could do without. We had a six-hour stopover at Sydney and were given a tour of the city sights.
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