Where Life Takes You – Part I

“One step forward, two steps back”

He heard a voice in his head as he was about to take the first step into his newly rented apartment. Jacob all of 28, was starting out at a well reputed publishing firm in New York and this tiny apartment was all he could afford. He often heard a woman’s voice in his head, saying things that he felt he was going to say aloud himself. This woman’s voice was even heard in his dreams sometimes.

Jacob was accustomed to it now, but the uneasiness of not knowing who this woman was still remains. After all, he had no woman in his life. He has absolutely no memory of his mother and his father never bothered trying to tell him anything. He never showed him a picture, never told him about her, never permitted him to meet his cousins and whenever asked about her he’d always say, “She left us. What more do you want to know of such kind of a woman?”. Jacob would never question him further. Always fearing he’d discover some really nasty truth about her or just thinking that he was supposed to hate her because his father did.

But he couldn’t hate her. He failed miserably every time he tried. Whenever asked about his mother, he always thought of her fondly. Though he had no face to remember her with, he always thought of her as a shape shifting shadow; one that would often take over the faces of his friend’s mothers, teachers and random ladies who he’d chance upon in the streets and the markets.

His father hated him for this. He hated him for spending time with women of other homes, in fact he hated him for almost everything he did. Ever since Jacob was a child the only thing he tried to do was to get his father’s attention and love. A brilliant student with great prospects, Jacob was put down at his own home because his father thought that grades didn’t mean he was a ‘prodigy’. “The real world is different from what you read in those books. These authors are the real culprits; give such dreamy views of the world that kids grow up to be failures.”, he’d say if he caught Jacob reading.

Hence, it came as no surprise that when Jacob chose to be an editor, his father couldn’t stand it. Well, to be more blunt he was thrown out of the house for not going with his dad’s choice of profession of being an accountant and rather turned out be what he called an ‘artistic failure’. However, Jacob couldn’t care less. After years of suppression, Jacob finally grew out of his young boy shoes and decided to stand for himself. Two years of extensive studying and internship, Jacob now moved out of his small town Butte, to New York, the city of dreams.

But something about this place makes it feel so real, almost as if he’s been here before.

“It’s impossible! I’ve never been out of Butte!”, he says to himself.

“But you belong here… you always did. You are where you were meant to be”, says the woman’s voice in his head.

It was almost as if he ‘she’ was replying to him. Brushing her aside for now, he took his first step in, wondering what ‘two steps back’ would actually mean.

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