The Community Newspaper (Flash Fiction)

Image by Karolina Grabowska from Pixabay

Flash Fiction #165

I don’t know how many different ethnic newspapers are there in New Jersey, but I’ve seen at least two Korean language newspapers, one Filipino newspaper, two Vietnamese papers, at least four Hindi papers, three Chinese papers in the area. They are usually free and stacked at the corner of Asian grocery stores. By the way I don’t consider Spanish language papers as ethnic since they have much larger circulations and readerships than these small Asian language prints. I would call the Spanish papers something in between the ethnic newspapers and the mainstream English newspapers.

And one of the ethnic newspapers is named International Express (IE), even though it is supposed to be a community newspaper, with local advertisement and local news. I guess everybody has a desire for a grand name, calling their small business a global enterprise, naming their takeout restaurant a palace, telling stories of their family being a descendant of a long forgotten king across the Pacific. As immigrants, we have such a deep inescapable insecurity that we have to aggrandize a little whenever we can.

I know the owner of IE and their four employees. I should have said owners since it is a couple who run it from a small office in a strip mall by a busy road in Edison Township. Mr. and Mrs. San are enterprising and resourceful people, which explains why other newspapers come and go while IE stays forever. I mean they are enterprising and resourceful in business dealings like hiring part-timers, finding better delivery deals, ensuring cash flow etc. However their enterprising spirit and resourceful ways have never been applied to the newspaper’s content–for the past fifteen years, the world has changed and made progress here and there, but the tone and the bias of IE have never changed.

The reason I know IE so well is because my friend Little Jade works there. I have two friends who have “jade” in their names. So after a while, our circle of friends named the taller one Big Jade and the other Little Jade. IE is too small a business to hire full time employees. Also as a weekly newspaper, it only needs help every Wednesday and Thursday to collect news articles, design new advertisements for new clients, manipulate publishing softwares etc. The rest of the work, Mr. and Mrs. San do it themselves.

The newspaper is free and it makes money on advertisement. Other than the advertisement for businesses, there are also articles, which are in essence advertisement too since they are written and submitted by business owners or the head of an organization or association. If a company does advertising on this newspaper, this company can submit an article for free every six months. If you like to have more articles published, you have to pay.

Although the newspaper is primarily filled up with various advertisement, it still has four pages allocated for “Life And Culture” columns. And every week, when I glance over this section, I feel a sense of hopelessness and despair since it is so bad. It should have been named “Lifeless And Uncultured”. Little Jade told me that Mr. and Mrs. San select the articles and make the final editorial decisions. I am not surprised since the Sans, although very nice and gentle, have an ultra conservative and archaic and rigid and reserved attitude. Although I visit their office regularly, I have never been able to speak a word with them.

“Look at this week’s life and culture column. It’s ridiculous.” I can’t help saying this while leafing through the newspaper. Little Jade is sitting opposite to me. We are at our local cafe, Paris Baguette. The spring is in full force and we are sitting at the little outside table.

Little Jade shrugged her shoulders.

“Here is an eulogy to his mother from a local merchant.” I say to Little Jade.

“Oh, yes. This merchant does advertising in our newspaper for years. His mother just died and he paid money to put up this article in the paper to commemorate his mother.” Little Jade says. “Don’t read it if you don’t like it. I know what your problem is, Haoyan. You are fixated on things that vex you. If I am like you, I will be annoyed to my death.” Little Jade says.

“My mother went through WWII, the famine, the migration, the death of her youngest child, but she never complained, not even to her two sons. She’s the symbol of love, virtue, and endurance.” I ignore Little Jade’s warning and read the article aloud. “That’s so passe. This means his mother doesn’t complain to him and probably doesn’t even communicate with him. I bet his mother talked and communicated with people, but just not with him. Silent women don’t really exist. It only exists in the imagination of people who don’t want to listen.”

So I read the four ridiculous articles in the Life And Culture column, and tell Jade that I am going to go protest and bring my opinions to Mr. and Mrs. San.

And little do I know that this little act of dissent would cause such an unexpected result.

(To Be Continued Here)

10 thoughts on “The Community Newspaper (Flash Fiction)

    1. Yes, most of the people around me don’t communicate with the parents (father or mother) in a communicative way. Parents are more of a symbol of respect rather than somebody one can talk to about one’s anxieties or thoughts. And this guy is typical that he never really knows his mother and his knowledge of his mother is rather superficial.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. You have got my interest up and I know there will be a surprise and happy ending coming. You are a kind soul who has spent most of her time on line coming up with a way to help immigrants of all nationalities how to understand American slang when I can’t even keep up. I hope you will tag me on the next part of this story. Such a well- written piece. Blessings to you my friend. 🦋🤗love Joni

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I don’t know how to tag you. What do you mean by “tag me”? Do I need to send you an email? LOL. Sorry to reveal my ignorance. It is a little embarrassing that I don’t know the basic digital vocab. Anyway, thank you for taking an interest in the story. I am still thinking about the ending right now and I hope I can come up with one tomorrow.

      Like

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