On a summer afternoon of 2008, I drove to a town about 250 km away to meet a friend. I started off on the Expressway and after driving for about an hour at 100 kmph, the eight-lane road narrowed down to a four lane road, two lanes each on either side, uptown and downtown, separated by a 10 meter wide grass covered mound. The urban concrete jungle I left behind had given way for the cultivated countryside dotted with a few farmhouses, stud farms and dairy farms.
While on a long drive, especially when driving alone, I listen to the news channel on the radio. It gives me ‘company’ ensuring that I do not doze off, keeps me informed of what is happening around the world. The channel updates me every ten minutes with the traffic and weather report. Suddenly I saw the car 200 m ahead of me and the 60 feet long truck in the right lane, coming to a screeching halt. I immediately applied the brakes and halted behind the car with the truck on my right.
I looked out in front and saw two geese and about a dozen goslings crossing the road from the grass on the left to the farm on the right, must be in search of food. Seeing the sizes of the goslings, it became evident that they belonged to two different mothers. The ganders must have flown out in search of food, leaving the mothers to look after the goslings.
After about two minutes of halting, the radio was reporting the hold-up on the highway caused by the goslings. The channel was giving a running commentary, giving out every detail of the event. Looking to my right I saw the news reporter who was responsible for the live broadcast – it was the truck driver on his cell-phone; he must have called up the news channel. The news channel as usual must have been hungry for news, especially in a country where there is hardly any political rallies or ‘hartals’ or bomb-blasts or scams or rail/ road accidents to report.
It took the crossing operation about ten minutes and there was a mile long lineup of vehicles on the highway. Once the geese and the goslings had crossed the road, the traffic started to roll.
I returned home by about 11 PM and as I steered the car into the driveway of our home, I found our daughter walking in. She generally is home by 10:30 PM after her classes in the university getting over by 10 PM followed by a 20 minute bus ride. I inquired about the delayed arrival and she had her story to narrate.
The bus she took from the university, while traveling on the highway, the driver noticed a crack on the windscreen. He pulled the vehicle off the road to the apron on the right and parked it with the flashers on. The driver briefed the passengers about the situation and advised everyone to remain calm and remain seated until the replacement bus arrived.
The highways have two aprons on either side. The one on the left is marked with a continuous yellow line and is meant for the emergency services like police, ambulance or fire. The one on the right is marked with a continuous white line and can be used to stop the vehicles in an emergency like this or may be used by the emergency services.
After about three minutes of halting the bus, two police cruisers pulled up behind the halted bus with their lights flashing. One parked about 10 meters behind and the other about 400 meters behind the halted bus. The policeman in the second cruiser closed off the right most lane with flares.
After about 15 minutes, the replacement bus arrived which was parked in front of the halted bus. The police gave an all clear signal after ensuring the safety and the bus driver briefed all passengers to alight from the bus and move into the replacement bus. That was the time when the driver opened the door. The two police men were guiding the passengers to the replacement bus. After everyone boarded the bus, the policemen signaled the bus to go.
One evening I was crossing a busy traffic signal in the city center while walking our dog Maximus. The collar came off the neck of Maximus, who was following me and without realising that Maximus was not there at the other end of the leash. I crossed over. Maximus kept standing in the middle of the road and when I reached the other end of the road and turned back, the signal at the intersection had changed.
No traffic moved and no one honked. I ran to Maximus and held him by his ear and ran to the other end of the road. Lucky for Maximus that no one honked, otherwise he would have ran in panic causing major chaos.
In Canada, the Criminal Code of Canada controls human behavior in relation to animals. As per the Canadian laws, animals are considered property. Property rights include the rights of possession, the rights of use, and the enjoyment of property. The original animal cruelty sections of the Criminal Code were enacted in 1892 with only minor amendments made in the mid-1950’s. It is an offence to wilfully cause or, being the owner, wilfully permits to be cause unnecessary pain, suffering or injury to an animal or a bird.
All lives are precious – whether it is of humans, animals or birds.
Thomas Graham is a young artist from Mississauga, Canada. He after graduating from Grade 12 in June 2015, is selected to join the prestigious Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD) University, Toronto, to pursue a degree in illustration and is looking to become an illustrator by profession.