Nina Sharma


Marriage is a peep show.  The nudity that I took for granted for the most part as a single girl cannot be discounted anymore- I feel his eyes as I throw my dirty exercise clothes in our wash, I here a whistle as I dry myself off from the shower and he comes rushing up feigning some Fred Astaire sort of dip.  “This marriage is not a peep show,” I say. “Wa-wa,” he says, imitating the game show fail sound.  His face goes hangdog as he rights us up again.

There are always jeans all over the place. Between me and my husband, we accumulate so many pairs. So heavy with loose change and weary, our shape still ghostly in them. For some reason, I feel our marriage burdened by them.

Marriage is the longest dialog of your life.  Weeklong addendums to the grocery shopping list, the unnecessarily rich lives of our fictious kids— “Whose hair texture do you think he’ll have,” he says.  “Yours, that’s usually how it goes,” I say.  He smiles and pumps a fist. If he could high-five his sperm, he would.

When we watch TV and the commercial for a movie comes on where a young Indian man on a boat is being swallowed by a Bengal tiger.  I call out, “Aray yar Sahib!  A young Indian man on a boat is being swallowed by a Bengal tiger.”  His smile flickers. “I cannot be a party to that,” he says.

Quincy shot me a look the time I impersonated Martin Lawrence’s voice as I stubbed my toe. “Damn, Gina,” I said as I rubbed my foot. “That’s strike 1. 3 strikes and I will impersonate a call center person,” he said.

Marriage is strange pleasures as terrific as terrifying- how I am lulled to sleep as he scratches me very low on the butt, the way he gasps with a kiss of the earlobe.

Marriage feels like one eternal dorm-room style mack.  I never know why we are up until 3.  He always knows.

Marriage is only bad when you feel one and another’s lonliness in the same room at the same time.

When we listened to a song by the rock group, The Band, I want him to love it.  But when he just says: “the horns are nice,” I feel very upset.

I love The Band I realize because they idolized American culture, most of the members being from Canada.  They spun stories about an America that neither they or I completely knew, in a style they could not entirely claim as their own.

Quincy might hate the music for that reason, this is my theory for his lack of enthusiasm for most of rock music, Elvis to Justin Bieber— the theft of one culture, placed in the hands of another.  He says, “No that’s not it, I just don’t have an ear for it.”

I wonder then what I don’t have an ear for in this marriage.

On a drive, early on into our marriage, I changed radio stations one time from the classic R&B to what he calls the young kids station.  He said, “I never thought to cut off Smokey before.”

When he keeps the station’s Sunday smooth jazz on for a beat too long, I feel annoyed.

When he changes the young kids station at the slightest auto-tune hiss, I feel annoyed.

I tell him I hate it when he pretends to be a very old man.

When I am mad, I pull a Desi Arnaz and start spewing Hindi galies.  My timing is not as elegant as Desi’s.  In anger, I forget what doesn’t translate.  “You are eating my head!” I say and he looks perplexed.

When he is mad, he listens to Ice Cube’s album Predator.  His favorite album.  And he offers it to me when I’m mad, even if it’s at him.

My mother says our fights are the detritus of our previous lives together.

I am convinced we knew each other and were separated abruptly.

The other day, Quincy was talking in his sleep and he called out: “we better move along now.”  “Where?” I said.  I talk to him, this sleeping Quincy, often. Especially the year he worked so much our Fridays were one long sleep.  That night, he told me about a covered bridge and how he came back.  I looked him in the face, his shut eyes, and talked with him until we were both asleep.




Nina Sharma is a writer from Edison, New Jersey. Her work has been featured in Blueshift Journal, Teachers & Writers Magazine, The Asian American Literary Review, Drunken Boat, Certain Circuits Magazine, The Feminist Wire, and Reverie: Midwest African American Literature. Her essay “The Way You Make Me Feel” won first place in the 2016 Blueshift Prizes for writers of color, judged by Jeffrey Renard Allen and appears in Blueshift Journal’s Brutal Nation feature. She is formerly the Director of Public Programs at the Asian American Writers’ Workshop and has an MFA from Columbia’s School of the Arts writing program.  She is an Arts & Culture editor at  The Feminist Wire.