â€œWhereâ€™s my brown-eyed princess?â€ he called as soon as he set his hat on the rack and tossed his coat over the banister. His voice reverberated throughout the small house, now all the more a home because of his arrival.
He kicked his wet shoes off into the mat and loosened his tie, unbuttoned two buttons on his white shirt. â€œCome on, princess, letâ€™s play!â€ he called, waiting. Usually she was sitting by the door, but today she was off somewhere, immersed in a game.
He quickly ran a hand through his hair and got down on his hands and knees. â€œCome ride your pony,â€ he boomed.
â€œDaddy!â€ she cried, running from the kitchen, through the house, and vaulted into his back, hugging him. â€œI love you, Daddy! I missed you!â€
â€œI missed you, too, princess,â€ he said, beginning his loop around the living room. â€œWhere to today?â€ he asked, as he did every day.
â€œCan we go to India?â€ she asked, her voice hopeful and excited.
â€œOf course, princess,â€ he agreed, rounding the armchair and nearing the fireplace. â€œWhich way is it to India?â€ he asked.
â€œOh, Daddy, I donâ€™t know. Donâ€™t you know the way?â€
â€œWell, Iâ€™m not sure, but I think we need to go south, and over oceans.â€ He paused near the fire for a few moments.
â€œOceans, Daddy?â€ she asked as she tightened her grip on the collar of his shirt.
â€œYes, princess. But ponies cannot ride over oceans, so weâ€™ll need to take a ship.â€
â€œA ship? Really?â€ she was so excited that she nearly fell off of his back.
He stopped while she climbed back on, â€œYes, my love, a huge ship! Would you like that?â€
â€œYes, Daddy! Letâ€™s go! Mommy and Norman can come, too, right?â€
â€œYes, princess,â€ he laughed his deep laugh, pausing to lean against the sofa. Little did he know that in a few short months he’d be boarding a plane without his family. Ships were no longer the only way to cross oceans.
â€œOh, Daddy, I canâ€™t wait to sail to India and meet the Indians!â€ she cried, climbing off of his back and onto the sofa. â€œWhen do we leave?â€ As he sat up, she grabbed his hands.
â€œAfter dinner, my love, after dinner,â€ he laughed, turning to smile and wink at his wifeâ€”my Bubbieâ€”in the kitchen doorway, who was holding a dishtowel and wearing the same slightly displeased expression that would come to be her usual expression years later when I was born.
â€œDinner is ready,â€ she said.