A Tale for Nani Ma
Rukhsana regaled Nani Ma with many interesting facts about the Solar System, which, as you can imagine, intrigued Nani Ma no end.
“Nani Ma, will you please tell me a story to put me to sleep?” Rukhsana asked her grandmother.
“Child, why don’t you tell me a story instead?”, Nani Ma replied. “I’ve told you so many stories and now it’s your turn to tell me one. I’m sure I could learn many things from you things that you learn at school. I didn’t have the opportunity to go to school when I was a child. You know many things, so maybe you could put some of that together as a story and tell it to me!”
“Waah! That’s such a lovely idea!” squealed Rukhsana. “Maybe I’ll tell you some interesting things about the Solar System that we learnt in class the other day.”
“Solar system? What’s that?” Nani Ma asked.
“Such big-big words you use sometimes!”
“Nani Ma! You’ll have to wait till tomorrow night to know what it is!” Rukhsana excitedly replied.
The next day Rukhsana searched the Internet for material about the Solar System for the story that she wanted to tell her grandmother. She jotted down some points that she thought Nani Ma would find interesting.
That night, after dinner, Reshma went to Nani Ma’s room, taking with her the manuscript of her story. “Nani Ma, remember I mentioned to you about the Solar System? Well, it’s a collection of the sun, the Earth and a couple other planets, all of which are floating about in space.” Reshma said.
Nani Ma had no idea what a planet was and Rukhsana had to explain the term to her. She knew about the sun and the moon of course, and the stars, of which she thought there were just a couple of dozens. You can imagine how surprised she was to learn from Rukhsana that the Sun is just one of hundreds of billions of stars in the Milky Way, the galaxy we live in, and that the whole Universe has at least 100 billion galaxies in it! When Rukhsana explained to her that a billion was 1 followed by 9 zeros, that is 1,000,000,000, she was astounded! ‘God is so great! He made such a very large world! I never knew this!” she exclaimed.
Rukhsana regaled Nani Ma with many more interesting facts about the Solar System, which, as you can imagine, intrigued Nani Ma no end. She told her that Jupiter, the largest planet of our Solar System, is so big that 1321 Earths can fit into it, and that the Sun is so huge that it would take 1.3 million planets the size of the Earth to fill the same volume! Nani gasped when she heard that the Sun is 93 million miles from the Earth (she thought it looked much, much closer!) and that the light from the Sun takes only 8 minutes to travel that huge distance all the way to Earth! “God be praised! Another of God’s marvels!” she said.
“Wait Nani!, Here’s another amazing fact!” Rukhsana continued. “Did you know that the nearest star to the Earth after the Sun, which is called Proxima Centuri, is 24 trillion miles from Earth and light from it takes four years and three months to reach Earth?”
“You really mean to say that the closest star to Earth after the sun is so, so, so far away?” Nani Ma asked in wonder. “I thought the stars were just a couple of miles up in the sky!”
Rukhsana shared with Nani Ma some other very interesting things about the Solar System, including how planets orbit the Sun with intricate precision and about how planets, which of course are so, so heavy, are suspended in space without any visible supports. Nani could hardly believe it when she learnt that on Jupiter, a planet that has at least 66 moons, there is a storm that is bigger than the Earth and which has been blowing for 350 years or maybe longer, and that on the hottest planet, Venus, the average temperature is 460°C almost five times the temperature at which water boils!
“Ouch! That’s really very hot!” Nani exclaimed.
“Nani Ma, that’s nothing compared to the Sun, where the temperature is around 5,500°C!”, Rukhsana responded.
When Rukhsana completed her story, Nani Ma said to her, “Thank you very much for telling me all this. It’s all new to me. I don’t think I’ll remember even a tenth of the things you’ve shared. But one thing your story has taught me, and that is, if the Universe God has made is so vast and well-designed, how infinitely great God is!”
“How right you are Nani Ma!”, Rukhsana added excitedly.