Story by kidzlitcobhouse
Illustration by OwlPoo
In memory of
Darcy Allan Sheppard,
a 33-year-old cyclist and father of four
brutally killed by Ontario public official's
car in downtown Toronto, September 2, 2009
"The message I'm getting is we deserve to die for riding a bike," she said. "There's no repercussions."
Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/politics/story/2010/05/25/bryant-sheppard-charges943.html#ixzz0pFrAWSoE
Once upon a time there was a girl called Tha. She lived in a large city where life was subjugated to the rule of car culture.
City streets were always packed with cars and trucks and filled with their aggravating noise and toxic fumes.
The city had no pedestrian - and bike-friendly space, and bikes and public transit could not be accessed easily as they were expensive.
Those who used bikes but did not need them any more, would leave them behind, locked! Such abandoned, used bikes were rotting on the streets in plain sight of those who needed them, or were salvaged by bike store owners only to be re-sold at prices many could not afford.
Those abandoned, used bikes that were left behind unlocked were in such decrepit state that it would have been cheaper to buy a new bike than repair the found one. Alternatively, some bikes were wasted by those who did not need them by being turned into neighbourhood beautifying flowerpot holders, totally disassociated from their intended function.
Bus drivers on public transit made scenes humiliating people who could not afford the bus tickets by denying them access, and called security guards to throw out those who used passive resistance to such legalized brutality.
Advocating for a more livable way of life, some concerned citizens engaged city officials and public at large with their ingenious presentations and demonstrations, but the city remained gloomily unresponsive and its many people unaware of the issues.
Despite high risks, her vulnerability, barriers and intolerance posed by the car culture, Tha biked in the city. Unlike cars, bikes did not pollute air, water and soil, and were less dangerous to the well-being of her animal friends.
Free access for all to bikes and public transit in car-free downtowns, Tha thought, would have been the best expression of the hybrid of environmentalism and humanity absolutely required in the times of global warming and climate change.
Unobstructed access to bikes and public transit should have been used as a reward for not driving cars, but in the car culture city, people's fists remained tight. To them, open-hand sharing was the strangest concept, and "steal" was every second word in their vocabulary. Having barred access to the majority to many things including the most environmentally friendly means of transportation, they lived in fear - fear that someone might steal something from them, including bikes.
Cycling was the fastest way for Tha to get around, and the best way to avoid traffic jam. Her bike could squeeze through tiniest laneways in the neighbourhood which she would have never discovered had she driven a car.
Tha loved biking, and even more, Tha loved walks. She tried to live slow in the midst of senseless speed and resulting carelessness, and this was very challenging.
One evening while taking a walk on Bloor Street close to the Avenue Road, Tha noticed a pigeon in the middle of one of the busiest streets.
She shrieked at the sight of the bird which was wounded and could not move out of harms way. Any car driving by could hit the bird again, and it would not have any chance of surviving.
Tha knew only one thing: she had to save the bird.
She looked left and right and luckily saw cars at a safe distance. She ran to the middle of the street, scooped the pigeon and placed it on the sidewalk.
Tha was hoping that the bird would be safer on the sidewalk, but this was not the case. She saw pedestrians almost step on the pigeon as they were unaware of the bird’s presence when they passed by.
Tha could not leave the bird on the sidewalk. The pigeon was gasping for air and could not move one of its wings. Compassionately and fiercely, Tha wanted the wounded bird to rest and recover so, she took it home.
In Tha's bedroom, the two-winged nestled in the seat of an armchair and showed no interest in bread crumbs, seeds and water Tha placed next to it.
Fearing that the sweetbeak person perched on her armchair would need more help than she could offer, Tha pulled out the phone book, leafed through it and found a list of veterinarian offices in the city.
It was an Easter eve holiday, and she knew that it was against all odds that anyone would answer her calls.
But, this feeling in her rang true until a vet from an office in East Hastings picked up the phone. Tha’s anxiety and fear of not getting through to the needed help in this crucial moment gave way to a flood of warm feelings of hope.
The veterinarian was willing to help the pigeon even though he said they usually did not attend to wounded urban wildlife. It seemed that Tha’s pleading voice and the magic of the Easter eve timing opened the stranger’s heart!
As Tha was putting on her jacket, ready to take the pigeon on a skytrain trip to the vet's office, the pigeon suddenly gasped loudly, opened one of its wings, stumbled forward and sideways and then settled back in its resting position.
The bird did not move again. Its eyes remained closed, its body still.
The feeling of deep sadness washed over Tha, and she cried in despair. The bird looked like a beautiful angel full of serenity and peace. "How in the world could anyone harm an angel like this innocent beautiful bird!?"
The next day, with a heavy heart, Tha buried the bird in an undisturbed area of a local park, next to a tree. Sitting at the two-winged sweet-beak's grave, Tha looked up to the sky and saw a rainbow. As the rainbow reflected in Tha's tears, she made a wish.
Her wish was a long list of answers to the question of what people could do so that birds in the city could live too!?