‘I did not save that little bird sitting paralysed in the middle of the eastbound left lane of Manning Road this morning. Due to the current holiday season, the road traffic in Perth is very light these days, about one-tenth of the normal traffic. I was alert enough to spot the bird, perched on the open road, from a distance of about 100 m, despite feeling a little intoxicated on this beautiful Perth morning, with lilting music being played on my community radio station, Capital Radio FM 101.7, as I hummed along with Doris Day’s classic, Singing in the rain. For a few seconds, I hoped the bird would fly away on hearing my car, as birds usually do, but when I was within a distance of only about 20 m from it and it still did not shy away, I slowed down carefully before reaching it and slowly steered left to an exit lane leading to a petrol station just before Waterford Plaza. And then I stopped my car in the exit lane, with engine running and caught up in two minds – should I drive away or should I get down to pick up the bird and carry it to the grassed kerbside? While I was still thinking, I was horrified to see a car in my rear mirror at a distance of about 200 m but fast approaching the bird in the same lane. Upon that, I painfully realised it was too late for me to get down and do my rescue act. I hoped and prayed the driver of the approaching car would spot the bird and change lane to avoid hitting it. But, alas, that did not happen! The car ran past me, throwing a heap of white feathers in the air behind it. The poor bird was gone! I was just not quick enough in my decision-making. I felt deeply sad, inadequate and quite miserable.
Hindsight, what should I have done? Yes, I could have saved the bird. On spotting the bird, I should have decelerated my car to a full stop just before reaching it, switched my emergency lights on, then got down to pick it up and placed it safely in shade under a tree on the grassed kerbside. May be it would have revived! Maybe! All it would have taken me was less than a minute to do my rescue act. As the traffic was very light at that time, the temporary closure of the lane would also not have caused much disruption to the traffic, perhaps none at all. But I was not quick enough to deal with the sudden situation. I blame myself, and not the other driver, for the bird’s crushing death on the road. Shame on me!
It has happened many a time in my life when time was of the essence and I was caught napping in situations where I ought to have proactively lent a helping hand and in a timely manner. Time and tide do not wait for anyone. Retrospectively, my consciousness has tormented me time and again with niggling thoughts such as, “I could have … I should have … I would have …”. But it has always been too late, too little.
Coming back, this morning I could have saved that little bird. Despite having intent to save it, I did not save it; I was slow in my decision-making. So, I have blood on my hands, shame on me!’ … Bill K Koul