“And the Oscar goes to… Jacob Brown!”

The crowd erupted in ovation as the 6 foot, handsome man stood up with an infectious smile on his face. As Jacob Brown made his way to the podium through a swarm of fancy kisses, hasty handshakes and half-felt hugs, he thought about what he wanted to say. After your first three Oscar wins, one tends to lose the once present euphoria of excitement and personal satisfaction. Now a reputed actor in the tail-end of his career, Jacob knew fully well that events such as this had less to do with him and more to do with his influence. This was not the time to bask in the warm light of his career achievements. The time for that had come and gone; everyone in the hall already knew who he was and what he was capable of, he had made sure of that in the span of his 40-year career. Through the back of his head, he could feel the looks of both admiration and envy, and he appreciated them both.

What Jacob Brown represented now, he knew, was not just a reputed actor but an idol. An idol to be looked on by generations to come, someone who commanded respect and love from all those who interacted with him. So of course when he got on stage, he did not reiterate his childhood dreams of getting into cinema, or the hurdles he had to go through in his youth, or the dedication with which he carved himself into each of the characters he played on screen. No, instead, he talked about social problems. He talked about racism, the environment, equal opportunity for all genders and sexual orientations. He talked about an era of equality and freedom for all, a mass movement which should be heralded by the youth in order to create a better, fairer world. He became what they wanted him to be- a role model.

However, this was by no means a sacrifice. Jacob talked about these things not because he had to, but because he wanted to. He’d already had countless interviews to talk about his own life; everyone already knew who he was. He remembered a particular interview where he revealed how the process of getting out of a character was harder for him than getting into one. Some characters he played throughout the years were so well-written and hence so close to his heart, that to remove the character from himself after the film was over, was a task that would take him days, weeks even. To him it always felt like saying goodbye to a friend. The act of slowly peeling away the layers of emotions, opinions and personality traits of the character that had possessed him, was a task that took its toll each time he performed it.

It was painful, yes. But it always felt good to get back to himself.

Jacob Brown was considered by all as a well-mannered, well educated man of unparalleled work ethic and unwavering ideals. In his entire career, there had never been an incident of wrongdoing or arrogance on his part. Everyone looked upon him and his words as sermons from a Godlike-being, as someone who represented virtue in its most attainable human form. So it was only natural that this aging legend would spend the minutes on his podium talking about the beauty of human togetherness and the importance of being kind.

The night was full of drinks, laughter and celebration. When Jacob and his wife returned home, the time was irrelevant and their moods tired. They had a memorable time but were both too drunk to remember it. Jacob looked at his wife in bed, inviting him over. She looked as beautiful as she did the day he first met her. In her eyes he could see her undying love that refused to give in even after 28 years of marriage, and he hoped that in his eyes she would see his.

He kissed her forehead, excused himself for a few minutes and went to the bathroom.

Inside, he sat down on a small stool in front of his mirror, and stared at his reflection.

Methodically, and almost mechanically, he reached towards a nearby drawer and picked up a knife from inside.

He pressed the sharp end of the knife towards his right temple.

As Jacob traced an outline of his face, he could feel the blood streaming down and the skin loosening its grip.

The pain that initially reared its head was quickly overcome with the gush of adrenaline.

He kept staring at his reflection and watched it transform.

It was painful, yes. But it always felt good to get back to himself.