Thursday, August 29, 2013

Book Review: The Race of My Life: An Autobiography by Milkha Singh

On the jacket: 

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 lucky), to a juvenile delinquent who stole and outran the police, to a young Army recruit who ran his very first race to win special privileges for himself (a daily glass of milk). After that first race, Milkha Singh became an athlete by default. And what followed was the stuff legends are made of.

In this remarkably candid autobiography, Milkha Singh shares the amazing highs of winning India’s first ever gold in athletics at the Commonwealth Games, the unbridled joy of being hailed as the ‘Flying Sikh’ in Pakistan, as well as the shattering low of failure at the Olympics.
Simple yet ambitious, famous yet grounded, Milkha Singh was a man who defined his own destiny and remained committed to running. And yet, remarkably for a man whose life was dominated by sports, he continues to remain disillusioned with the way sports is run…
Powerful and gripping, The Race of My Life documents the journey of an impoverished refugee who rose to become one of the most towering figures in Indian sports.


The film Bhaag Milkha Bhaag has recently released and right around it's release, I got to know about this book. I patiently waited for the book, because I am from that group of people who prefer reading the story to watching it. Not that I had soaked in every word in the book, I can go watch the movie as well!

The Race Of My Life starts at the very beginning, in Milkha Singh's childhood, even before partition. It goes on to describe the partition briefly, and you realise what the Bhaag Milkha, Bhaag  actually meant! Simple language, an honest rendition of a humble man, the book is one inspiration I will always keep close to myself. I believe, you have to lose to achieve. By lose, I mean both losing to someone and losing someone, or at times either. Mostly when there is a sense of loss, one yearns to achieve the impossible. That's what Singh's life shows as well.

The book not only tells us about the life of an achiever we have been hearing about since childhood, someone who has been used as an example to depict exemplary performance; but, it also gives a fine lesson on self-belief and determination. Not very detailed, but I feel the book covers all aspects.

My only qualm is that this book didn't come out earlier. Still, better late than never!

Rating: ****.5/5

[This review is for Rupa Publications. The opinions are strictly my own and not been written under any obligation.] 

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