Book Title: The Incredible Life of Milkha Singh – The Runner Who Could Fly
Written By: Swati Sengupta
Illustrations By: Devashish Verma
Publisher: Talking Cub-An imprint of Speaking Tiger Books
No. of Pages: 120
Recommended age: 10 Years+
I’m posting this review on behalf of my 10 year old son, Divit.
When I first got this book I was very excited to read it because I knew Milkha Singh as The Flying Sikh but I didn’t know about his life. To be honest I was a bit sad to read about his hard life in the first few pages. I couldn’t imagine how a little boy could survive losing his entire family in front of his eyes. I had to read on to find about his sheer determination and zeal to prove himself. The book has touched me in a way I can’t explain. Let me tell you the story of “The Flying Sikh”.
Once, there lived a little boy named Milkha in a peaceful village called Gobindapura that was located in west Punjab. Life was all good for him until one day disaster struck. The partition of India took place. Everything changed, people changed and life was no longer the same for anyone. Milkha’s family and home were snatched away from him forever. When he saw his father getting killed in front of his own eyes, Milkha just held onto the last words said by his father – “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag!”. He ran as fast as his thin legs could take him. He had to do it for his father because Milkha knew his father wanted him to live. He ran and jumped into a train knowing in his heart he was leaving behind his home and family who were all dead.
The train took him to Delhi where he was reunited with his older brother Makhan who had joined the Army. Milkha eventually joined the Army as well like Makhan. But life wasn’t as easy in the army as he thought it would be! He woke up at the break of dawn and slept at 11 o’clock every night! Milkha had considered running away, giving it all up but that would mean letting go of this golden opportunity.
Just when he thought he couldn’t do this anymore, Milkha found an opportunity. There was a six mile race for all army recruits! Cherry on top was the enticing prize that the top 10 winners would get an extra glass of milk every day and would have no non military duties. Milkha pounced on this, as he considered himself to be quite good at running! And so he was – he excelled! In fact he finally realized what he loved. Running.
Now, on the bitterly cold nights, instead of sleeping soundly, he used to practice running after a hard day of work. Day after day, week after week, month after month, he kept running and his speed kept improving. He was now participating for the National Games. He saw many failures but nothing could stop him from trying harder and giving his best. He went on to win many titles, awards and accolades. Milkha Singh-The Flying Sikh was awarded the Padma Shri in 1959.
I love the last part of the book which has a timeline of all the important events of Milkha’s life. The more I read it the more I understood his passion, hard work, his determination and the big pride behind the name – Milkha Singh!
Oh well, I would like to go on but my computer would not be able to handle the number of words! This is a fabulous book and I am so glad I got this one to review. The language is so simple and flows through the story with Milkha. I felt I am transported to his world. The illustrations are minimal but they are in the pencil sketch style which is my favourite style of art. I would highly recommend every child and adult to read this book. I could draw a lot of motivation for my games (I play chess) from Milkha Singh. My takeaway is to never give up after a loss and keep trying harder.
There are other books in The Incredible Life of series from Talking Cub as well for 10 years and above. You can read the review of The Incredible Life of Birsa Munda: The Great Revolutionary Leader here.
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Disclaimer: Achira and her sons are part of the #kbcReviewerSquad and received this book as a review copy from the publisher.