In our seventh Unitarian Universalist principle, we covenant to affirm and promote, “Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.” The children’s version of this principle is often written, “We believe in caring for our planet Earth, the home we share with all living things.”

Today’s story explores air pollution in India, and how we can do our part by choosing cars that pollute less. Questions to ponder after the video: What do you like to do to help the environment? What is an invention that you would like to make?

Story transcript:

I could not believe my eyes when I saw her for the first time. “This is incredible! Such a tiny car. Yet it can seat four passengers,” I thought. I was sitting on a wall with my little sister Neeta, counting cars. I love cars. I dream of them. I can tell you the make of every vehicle on the road. Aren’t cars amazing? BRRMM BRMMM and you can go anywhere in them. Bright yellow, her headlights blinked. She looked like a red fairy. Questions whirled in my mind. Where did she live? What was her name? I needed to know more about her.

I cycled to the colony gate. I asked Guard Chacha if he knew anything about this sparkling little red car. He laughed and said, “You like that car? That car and its owner have recently moved here. They live in house number 112.” “Thank you,” I said and cycled home again. That evening, I went to house number 112, looking for my new neighbour. I spotted big cars but the little red car wasn’t there. Then I saw a gate and behind the gate I saw Red Fairy.

There was a cable attached to her left. Ooooo, Red Fairy moved with electricity, not petrol or diesel. She got herself charged to run around! The next day, I saw Red Fairy whizzing past. I ran behind her and raised my hand to stop her. She stopped! Sitting inside was a white-haired lady who smiled at me. She looked like my Nani. (Nani means “Grandma”).

I gently patted Red Fairy and told Nani, “I am a car expert but I have never seen a car like this. I really like her.” “I hope you will like me too,” said Nani. “Since Red Fairy and you live together, you must be very nice too,” I said, and couldn’t help but grin.

“You have given this little one a wonderful name – Red Fairy,” said Nani. “And may I call you Red Fairy’s Nani?” I asked. I told her about my love of cars and motorcycles and about my photo collection. Nani said, “Red Fairy and I moved to the colony recently and do not know anyone here. I’m glad you stopped us.” “My name is Meeto. I will ask Ma to introduce you to our neighbours, but first tell me more about Red Fairy.”

Nani offered to take me for a drive. I was so excited. I ran home and asked Ma for permission to go with Nani. Then I jumped into Red Fairy’s lap. Nani started her up and Red Fairy began to run. As we whizzed down the roads, I could hear no roar, only a purr. I asked Nani why the car was so quiet. She said, “Red Fairy makes no noise and emits no smoke.”

Red Fairy zipped between cars – small cars and big cars. People on the road stared and smiled at us. At a red light, an auto rickshaw driver was curious about Red Fairy and asked Nani a lot of questions about her. The light turned green and we drove on, ahead of everyone. No BRRMM BRMMM noise, yet zooming away. Soon we were at India Gate. Nani bought ice creams for us. Everything was grey. Nani said it was the smog that made things grey.

I told her that my papa said that the air in Delhi was very polluted. “The smoke that comes out of cars adds to this pollution, which is why my mother doesn’t like my interest in cars.” Nani listened as I shared stories with her. “My sister Neeta and I often get ill and catch colds and coughs because of the pollution. But I do love cars. What do I do?” I asked.

Nani said she had been driving Red Fairy for eight years and they were good friends. Suddenly I felt that Red Fairy was whispering to me. “Meeto, I do not pollute the air like other cars do. Also, I take very little space to move and park.” I was now convinced that Red Fairy was magical. No smoke, no sound, no petrol and no diesel. And she was talking to me.

“Cars that use alternative energy can reduce air pollution. Who knows, you could become a scientist and invent cars that cause no pollution at all,” said Nani. I decided that I would invent a new car and call it Vibgyor Fairy. (VIBGYOR means the same as ROYGBIV, so it means “Rainbow Fairy,” all the colors of the rainbow).

Green Cars: A green car is a car that is environmentally friendly. It consumes less or no petrol and emits little or no carbon dioxide. There are several kinds of green cars.

Electric car: This runs on an electric motor and stores energy in large rechargeable batteries.

Hybrid car: This has two motors, one electric and one internal combustion. It uses less petrol than regular cars and causes less pollution.

Hydrogen car: This uses hydrogen for fuel instead of petrol. Instead of smoke, it produces water vapour which is great for the environment.

Solar car: This uses solar energy for power. Solar panels convert sunlight into electricity to run the car. There are no exhaust fumes or emissions.

The End

Creative Commons Story Attributions: The Red Fairy was written and translated into English by Kamla Bhasin; from the original story, ‘लाल परी’. Illustrations by Tanvi Bhat, guest Art Director Ruchi Shah. © Pratham Books, 2018. Some rights reserved. The development of this book was supported by P.A.N.I. Foundation, prathambooks.org. Published on StoryWeaver and released under a CC BY 4.0 license. Some rights reserved. For more information, or to read more books on your own, visit storyweaver.org.in.