S hmuel

“You do not want to go to Kolkata,” I say as I hack a minute steak that has clearly been left in the pan too long.

“Oh, but I do,” says Chavy, “I really do. Isn’t Kolkata, in like, Cambodia? It’s probably beautiful.”

“Kolkata is in India. And it may be beautiful, but it’s also congested and dirty and not entirely safe.”

Chavy’s face falls, and for a minute I feel a pang. It’s been hard for her these past few weeks. For the first time ever, there are no children home. With the girls married and the boys off in yeshivah, she has no one to dote on, to fret over, to ply with food and love. She seems to be unmoored. I want to make her smile.

“Maybe we should start with a domestic trip,” I say. “I need to go to Los Angeles for an auction next month. Would you want to come?”

As soon as the words escape my lips, I regret them. What am I thinking? This is a meshugas I need to nip in the bud, not encourage. But Chavy’s eyes are shining.

“Oh, Shmuel, that would be amazing. Thank you so much.”

This isn’t supposed to happen. Chavy is the ultimate homebody; it was one of the things I’d liked most about her when we dated thirty years ago. (Excerpted from Calligraphy, Succos 5778)