At a traffic light today, a young boy selling small national flags caught my eye. He had a spring in his step and was enthusiastically hurrying from one car to another trying to sell his wares. By the time he reached my window, he had seven flags left.Now I will be honest in saying that I am not the patriotic sort who display national flags in their houses and cars. However in this case, I was willing to make an exception.Smiling from ear to ear, he thrust a plastic tricolour in my face and said “Take it Sir, you will love it!””What is your name?””Chotu””How much?” I asked.”10 for one” he replied.”I will take two” I said taking out a 50 rupee note from my wallet.Chotu’s face lit up. The next instant he handed me all seven flags.”Take all these for 50″ he said.”But what will I do with all of these?” I was amused.”Please Sir, this is my last lot and nobody will buy these tomorrow.” he said chirpily.He spoke with such innocence that I agreed. In a jiffy, he pocketed the 50 rupee note and joyously hopped away.”Hey boy, at least take some more money….” I called out to Chotu.”Koi baat nahi Sir, aaj Chhabees hai…..Jai Hind ! (Doesn’t matter Sir, today is 26th……Jai Hind)” he said flashing a bright smile. He then stood ramrod straight and saluted smartly.Involuntarily, I smiled back. Somehow, Chotu had effortlessly (and unintentionally) captured the essence of Republic Day in his own little way…… subtle yet telling.Despite being in dire straits, he was managing to remain upbeat. To achieve success in life, undoubtedly, he would have to cover MILES…….but surprisingly, he had no shortage of SMILES!!There is a lesson here for the lot of us who are much luckier in life than Chotu. Yes, there are problems in our lives, in the system……in the country in general. But if there is someone who can make a difference, it is WE ourselves!I know it is a ‘tough ask’ to be Mentally Strong like Chotu…..but we can at least try.Now, I know that Rajpath is the place to be on Republic Day but for me, my parade commander CHOTU had shown me the spirit of 26th Jan right there on that busy road in Delhi.Happy CHHABEES to all of you…….Jai Hind!

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