Vol. 11


A Crabby Story

c. 1974; Nanjing, Jiangsu, China"A Crabby Story" illustration: A boy is alarmed to find escaped crabs near the bathtub.

It was a stormy night in Nanjing in August of 1974. To pass the time, my mother and Uncle Tao were playing cards in the living room. Suddenly the lights flickered, and they were enveloped in darkness. Not knowing what to do, because their parents had gone out for supplies, they huddled around a candle in the living room to hopefully wait the storm out. It was silent, except for the heavy pitter-pattering of the rain and the occasional roar of thunder.

All of a sudden, a clinking sound came from upstairs. It grew louder, as the sound of more feet joined in and started getting closer. Scared and not knowing what to do, my mother and Uncle Tao held the candle and slowly crept up the stairs. In their minds, they thought the worst, but really it was something much more surprising. It was crabs!

Dozens of crabs were scuttling through the hallway and on the stairs. Somehow, they had escaped. A few days before the storm, my grandparents had gotten live crabs from the market. They hadn’t been able to eat them all, so they had put the remaining crabs in a bathtub. Apparently the crabs figured out a way to climb out of the bathtub by stacking themselves on top of each other. Scrambling around, my mother and Uncle Tao tried to catch the crabs before their parents returned. It was pretty difficult to see, because there was no light except for the one candle. They also had to be careful so the crabs didn’t pinch them.

The sound of the door opening — and voices — interrupted the night. Their parents had returned.

They went upstairs to see what all of the ruckus was about and were greeted with a confusing, yet hilarious, sight. In the candlelight they saw their panic-stricken children running around trying to catch crabs. Grabbing flashlights, they quickly came to their children’s aid. Instead of putting the crabs back in the bathtub, they put the crabs in a giant ceramic pot that was at least three feet deep. Satisfied with what they’d accomplished, they decided to call it a day.

The next morning when they woke up, the rain had stopped. In the kitchen they were met with a surprise: They hadn’t caught all of the crabs. A few of them were hiding under the table and cabinets.

These crabs represent us as people. One crab alone wouldn’t have been able to escape. In order to achieve greatness, many times we will find that we will need to rely on others’ help and support to reach our goals instead of doing things alone.

Cindy Zhu; North Carolina, USA

Illustrator: Ally Osterhoff; Missouri, USA



This copyrighted story may be copied and/or printed for limited classroom or personal use. To reprint this story and/or illustration in an article about The Grannie Annie, please contact The Grannie Annie Family Story Celebration for permission.


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