If I hadn’t run I would have been murdered. I wore the same blood-splattered clothes for ten days. I found my way to Delhi and thought all my family had died.
I was 12 and every day I went to Delhi train station, where the trains were coming from Pakistan, and people gathered to find out news of relatives, friends and neighbours. There were announcements of survivors and I found out one of my sisters had survived and was in Delhi, so I stayed with her.
I was good at running because we lived 10km from school, so every day we would run 10km there and 10km back. Barefoot.
In May and June it gets so hot – 40 to 50 Celsius. We would run for a mile, see a patch of grass, stand on it to cool our feet and run again. If I hadn’t joined the army I would never have realised my running potential, so all credit goes to the army.
I tried to join in 1948 and 1949 before I was accepted in 1951. It was very competitive as there were so many refugees desperate for work – for the 50 posts available, there were 3,000 people.
I have very fond memories of the Cardiff Commonwealth Games – I was the only Indian to win and I had no idea I would win as the world record holder was running in my race. The Queen put the medal on me, and the Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, sent me a message. To receive that recognition was a big thing.
I was named the Flying Sikh by the president of Pakistan when I competed in Pakistan. India and Pakistan should live side by side with love. I feel India and Pakistan is one – if politics didn’t exist, it would be one country and they would never have been separated.
Wars have only harmed each country – many have died on both sides and for what? Our culture is shared. In our hearts there should not be a wall between India and Pakistan.
by Rahul Verma Source: metro.co.uk