My seventy-year-old father called me late one night from his crumbling apartment in Calcutta, India. He was supposed to spend the summer with me in Boston, and I had already bought the plane tickets.

“I don’t know if I can come, sweetie,” Papa mumbled. “Who will look after my fish?”

I imagined him sitting in the dark, his silver hair immaculately combed, staring at his lit aquarium. He could watch his fish for hours, mesmerized by the glinting neon tetras, the glistening baby sharks, the thuggish, whiskered catfish. His pride and joy were the pearly, translucent angelfish, each as big as a fist.

“Papa,” I said to him, “you haven’t seen me for three years. You’ve never even seen your grandson. You have to come.”

People on couch
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