Seeing that word gave me an immediate tap into a distinct childhood memory. A good tale, because, like so many good yarns, it’s tinged with a faint hue of horror.
We used to go yabbying as kids. Though that’s not quite the honest truth. It’s more that I used to go running around in the creek or on the railway when my brothers left me behind as they went yabbying.
One day I convinced them to take me along and show me the ropes. I begged. I pleaded. I even promised to behave. And even though I was a little kid, I did behave. It was bewitching to watch. String, catch, net. Squirm. They were catching river bugs! Yabbies, they called them. Beautiful was what I thought.
On the way home I picked out the prettiest, bluest beautifulest one. I named him. Goodness knows what. I only recall that he was now mine. My new pet yabby.
I left him and his mates on the back verandah, swirling around in a sturdy bucket. I didn’t want to leave him, the shining little wonder, but I’d been called inside. Who knows what for. A bath, a tidy up, a telling off? Or something equally ridiculous and unimportant.
When I came back the bucket was empty. I left the backdoor swinging and went through yelling for my Mum. Where was my little mate?
You can guess, can’t you? I couldn’t. I can still remember it. The kitchen. The slow dreadful walk. The big lidded pot, boiling and roiling.
‘Mum? Where’s my yabby?’
She picked me up so I could get a proper look. What a good mum.
I can still hear my screams to this day.