Dear readers,

We move into Autumn 2022 of The Mean Journal by MeanPepperVine with three short stories, two flash fiction, and one photo essay.

Death, and the varied faces of its aftermath is a common theme that runs through the stories of Autumn 2022.

‘My Mother’s Trunk’ by Sreeparna Sen is a tender study of a pervasive yet not often discussed social issue in India. A son explores the contents of his late mother’s beloved steamer trunk, and in the process uncovers a startling secret, one that completely shifts the landscape of their family. 

Vijayalakshmi Sridhar’s flash fiction, Mukhagni is carried by a nameless narrator, an only daughter (we assume, as the gender is not specified), as she navigates her gale force grief upon losing both her parents in a terrible accident. The powerful imagery and lyrical prose somehow manages to render her sorrow beautiful, leaving us readers shuddering in wonder.

Kasturi Patra’s short story ‘The Widow’ is a raw and intense exploration of the life of an Indian housewife who is trapped in a loveless marriage for more than four decades with a man who takes her for granted, and uses her body solely for his own gratification. The aftermath of death in this story is like a soft breeze that finally opens up a much longed for personal space, ‘a wealth of time was all hers.’

‘A Woman Like Few’ by Chitra Gopalakrishnan is a dense and difficult story set in a small Indian city. It is a fascinating account of a woman who made her own rules and lived by them, no matter the cost. Upon her death, she leaves behind a trail of deluge, a dysfunctional family, and a daughter who slowly but surely morphs into her combative mother.

A layered tale of family and the complex relationships within it, Preetha Vasan’s short story ‘Food of Love,’ lets us into the world of a family as they gather after the death of their much beloved member. The story is told by two narrators, a granddaughter and her grandmother, and ends with an unexpected revelation, one that explains the thick air of tension that reverberates throughout the story.

Our lone photo essay for this issue, ‘Chawngte – A Place of Multitudes’ by R.K. Vanlaldinpuia is a fascinating account of a tiny complicated place tucked away in the South-Western corner of Mizoram.

Our cover art depicting the centuries-old Japanese art Kintsugi (金継ぎ) which translates as “To join with Gold” or more poetically as “Golden Joinery,” is inspired by this season’s protagonists as they are ricocheted by the choppy tides of their lives, buffeted by waves, stumbling, sailing towards ports of refuge, clinging on to momentary reprieves, healing, mending, and evolving with their battle wounds. 

Happy Reading!

Ruati Chhangte | Founder Editor, The Mean Journal

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