Four Colleagues (Flash Fiction)

Image by OyeHaHa from Pixabay

Flash Fiction #138

“Jama’s always like ‘I can do it’, ‘I can do it’ even if she really can’t. Ivy, our boss, tends to talk about looking into the future, expanding our customer base, tap into new projects. That’s just routine. She’s the boss and she has to talk that way. One just needs to listen and nods one’s head in polite intervals. However, Jama totally ruins it with her passion for more work and no extra pay. Where can you find such a self sacrificing employee like her? I mean this is just a job and there’s no need to give up her life for it. Just look at her dedication. She’s putting a lot of pressure on us. I mean her eagerness seems to mock us to our face as being lazy and unmotivated.” Dana says to Waiwai. They are the colleagues of Jama and they are talking about the office meeting of the previous day.

“Oh, she also has no manners. I mean every time I talk with her, she’s trying to show off or something. Every time she opens her mouth, she’s trying to show she’s smarter than everybody else. What a show off. After that, she will deliberately say something to show her modesty, as if she is begging other people to contradict her. Can you believe such a woman even exist? She’s so awkward, with not a shred of subtlety or nuance.” Waiwai echoes.

“Now Jama is going to become our boss Ivy’s favorite. And what will become of us?” Dana says.

The very next week, Ivy and her husband Tom unveil an ambitious project of revamping the company’s website and adding new service etc. And needless to say, Jama responds with enthusiasm. Her colleagues look at her with weariness and doubts. “How can she have the ability to do website on top of everything else? How can she handle services she has no experience on? This is not just show off; this is pathological.” Dana and Waiwai are not the only ones who raise their unconvincing eyebrows. They exchange wistful looks– Jama the fraud is going to be taught a bloody lesson by the teacher called reality.

Ivy and Tom are very happy indeed. Jama’s enthusiasm gives them hope. “Jama, you are the best. Without you, we won’t be able to try anything new. And that’s the spirit, Jama.” They pat Jama on the shoulder and give her encouraging smiles. Jama is so happy. She is usually a melancholy girl, but on this occasion she grins from side to side with happiness.

Lulan can’t say anything in the meeting since she doesn’t want to be a killjoy. However she has heard about people’s complaints of Jama and she has concerns about Jama’s overconfidence. Lulan is not unaware of Jama’s awkwardness and unsociable manner, but somehow Lulan has sympathy for Jama. Even Lulan herself doesn’t understand why Jama’s behavior doesn’t bother her as much as it bothers other people.

After the meeting, it just happens that Lulan and Jama have a private moment together. Lulan can’t help saying, “Jama, a lot of work.”

Jama says, “I can do it, don’t you think? I want to try my best.”

Lulan says, “Well… I admire your enthusiasm. I mean everybody admires you.”

Jama syas, “Well, probably not Dana or Waiwai, who must be secretly mocking me somewhere. I can imagine that. I mean you are such a wonderful person, with a lot of sympathy and helpful tips. Tell me, honestly. Do you think I can do it?”

Lulan says, “Well…”

Jama says, “I cannot do it?”

“Oh, I didn’t say that.” Lulan says.

“But you hesitated. You don’t think I can make it, do you?” Jama says.

“Jama, I have something more important to say to you. I think you need to relax a little bit and be normal. You don’t have to prove yourself all the time. I mean your effort of trying to prove yourself has exhausted you. You know those people who grew up under narcissistic parents will always want to prove themselves, to solve problem, to get recognition from others, because their parents withheld love and affection from them. Those children think if they work harder, they will gain their parents’ love, but that never happens. And they just keep trying. It’s a very bad cycle, and it even extends until adulthood and it can ruin everything for them. You know sometimes seeing a psychiatrist can help…” Lulan says.

“What are you talking about?” Jama stares at Lulan in extreme astonishment. “Are you saying that I am crazy? Do I look like a crazy woman to you? I can’t believe you think this way. This is your opinion of me? I thought you are better than others, but now you just demonstrated that you are worse. No, you are the worst. You think I am a mad woman, a mental patient, an unstable person who can’t get over her abusive parents, but for your information, my parents are the best people who always wanted me to be the best, who stayed in a bitter marriage just to make a home for me, who talked about self sacrificing all the time, who told me I was their golden child, who went through hell but achieved so much, who’s the envy of all our neighbors, who did so much in their respective company, but never received acknowledgement, who spent money and ruined their looks just for their children, who deserve the best respect from their colleagues, the best filial sentiment from their children, the best compliments from passing strangers, the best accommodation in restaurants or hotels if they pay a visit. They deserve the best and nobody can do enough for them. They always deserve more…Oh, my goodness. I realize… Lulan, you are right. I have narcissistic parents. Lulan, you are very cruel to tell me this.”

11 thoughts on “Four Colleagues (Flash Fiction)

    1. So true. I’ve noticed many such people who grew up in such a household. The problem also lies in the fact that narcissistic parents look fine to other people and they look very much normal, probably a little self absorbed, but not abnormal at all. Actually many consider them admirable parents and are recruited to be the flying monkeys.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. I can’t agree more. You are sooooo right. I mean narcissists are so good at mirroring others or checking out other people’s weaknesses. They are vampires or zombies who’s mission in life is to mess up other people…

          Liked by 1 person

  1. Realization comes when it has to. There’s never a right time or place. Hope so many can see through the damage that has been done and try to make things better for themselves in the present and future. Great story, Haoyan. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It sounds like a nightmare to be brought up like that. But I wonder how much of it is cultural in addition to the narcissism thing? A few years ago we heard a lot about the “Tiger Mother” in the book by Amy Chua. The theme of her book was, in essence, that lax western parents could learn a lot from demanding Asian mothers. Can this be taken too far? Where do you draw the line between this “tiger mothering” and the narcissistic parenting that you describe?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Narcissism is often closely intertwined with culture, personality, temperament etc., which is why it is so hard to recognize it. Still, I think narcissism exists in all cultures and is becoming more prevalent. In one culture, it manifests as academic pursuit, and in another culture, it may manifest as an adoration of something else, for example, beauty, style, muscle etc. I dislike the book battle theme of a tiger mom very much, but I do like the fact it is an honest portrayal of a narcissistic tiger mom–guess what, I suspect that in the top university she worked, everybody suffers certain degree of self adoration, and disregards other people’s reality.

      Liked by 1 person

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