As the world continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic, Indian artists and storytellers have been capturing the human experience of these times through powerful visual stories.

In June, The Olive Ridley Collective launched Karuna Stories: Power of Gentleness and Grace, a competition for Indians to share their hopes, visions and possibilities for the Covid-19-struck world. The open call received hundreds of entries from all over the world.

Muthhmaila by Shubhshree Mathur , written in Hindi, bagged the first prize. Chaired by animation filmmaker Suresh Eriyat, the jury said: “...[t]hrough a remarkable parable of childhood, Mathur reminds us of the small pleasures of song and play. Her story of is one of hope for ourselves and for our children – and that we may once again regain the innocence we have lost in these challenging times”.

Father, Son and the Holy Ghost by Priyankar Gupta was awarded second place and Dora ki Dori by Sheetal Paul and Ishta Kapoor, third place. The jury also awarded honourable mentions to four additional stories for their beautifully crafted narratives.

Noting that two of the three winning entries are in Hindi, the jury also said that the delicacy and eloquent use of language played a large role in their final selection. Here are the five prize-winning English stories, including the second prize winner and four honourable mentions:

Father, Son and the Holy Ghost, Priyankar Gupta: Second Prize

Priyankar Gupta’s entry – which comprises of a graphic narrative told in comic form – captures an elderly couple’s experience of the pandemic from the perspective of a father waiting for news from an absent son.

Introspection, Rohan Bhatia: Honourable Mention

Letters to Myself by Siddhartha Tripathi: Honourable Mention

Maya’s Story, Indumathi Manohar: Honourable Mention

The Foreteller, Gaurav Pati: Honourable Mention