This issue marks the first anniversary of The Mean Journal. The past year has truly been a remarkable & humbling journey for us here at MeanPepperVine. We had the opportunity to read hundreds of stories; we pored over countless photos, agonized over words and sentences, and explored myriad universes through all the stories & essays that were submitted to us.

Soon after Salini & I started publishing our journal last year, I often found myself ruminating over niggling existential questions on the lines of, ‘What is our intention with The Mean Journal and where does it fit in the vast universe of storytelling?’ ‘Is there a need for yet another online literary journal?’ ‘Are we really qualified to do justice these works that are so dear to each of their creators?’ With each issue that we published over the past year, the answers to these questions slowly unraveled themselves.

Reading your stories, delving into the world of your protagonists and how brave they have to be in the face of adversities, their fears, sorrows & joys, their base desires, how conventions of society strangle them, and how they still bloom and strive despite everything, how they sometimes despise the people that they love, the colors of their skies, the way their world smells, the distinct flavors of their food, the secret longings of their heart…and the way you delicately unfold the plot for us readers, how you tell us certain things by not telling us, your ambivalence, the way you string your words together, your unique voice, us being transported by your words & images, hearing you tap-tapping away into the depths of your soul through your words…reading and editing your stories has been a journey of discovery and reckoning. It has reminded us how profoundly we love good storytelling, and has also taught us that the Universe always generously makes space for our unique stories and narratives.

Through the intense collaborative journey of publishing the past 4 issues, and organizing our debut event this February, MeanPepperVine is slowly figuring itself out, and is carving out its own space in the huge literary landscape. We are grateful that writers and artists trust us with their work, and trust our judgement through the editing and publishing process.

Our anniversary edition contains 3 photo essays, a short story and one flash piece. We hope you enjoy these remarkable works, and we look forward to celebrating many more milestones with you in the years to come.

Cover Art | April, 2023

Our cover for this edition is an artwork by Lalhruaitluangi (Hruaii), an artist from Lunglei, Mizoram.

The artist was inspired by 1 Corinthians 13:12‘For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.’

‘We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!’

You can explore more of Hruaii’s art on her Instagram Page.

As always, happy reading.

Ruati Chhangte | Founder Editor, The Mean Journal