First there was a girl named Joanne who was very skinny and had square blonde hair and who worked at a dry cleaner. In high school there was a pudgy girl with pasty skin named Cathy. Both were quiet and listened intently in class. Both were good at math and hoped to be engineers. Although I spoke to them only a few times, in each case I thought about the girl all day and dreamt of her at night. I would fantasize about living happily together and being good. When I am married, I thought, I will give my wife a single flower every day. In my fantasies, we were always married, although this idea was vague to me, represented mainly by our living in a house that had a dining table.
I went to Rutgers for college. I was fat. I didn’t know much about women. My father once told me, “Ajay, don’t be proud. Marry someone taller than you.” My mother laughed with malice. “The first well that gives this boy water he will build his house next to.”
—Akhil Sharma, “The Well”