Fiction

The Orchard

by Deepanshu Srivastava

In Raigad, a sleepy town in the Konkan region of Maharashtra, Ajinkya Patil used to live with his mother Ushatai Patil, elder sister Sunita Patil and cousin Vandana Patil. The youngster, a dendrophile, went to US Agriculture Academy to learn more about trees and plants. After coming back he started research on different species of mango trees in a mango orchard. He also got attracted to his cousin, Vandana, and started spending his time either in the orchard or with Vandana.

His mother did not like Ajinkya getting closer to Vandana and smelled his one-sided affection towards his cousin, Vandana. To stop the blind love of her young son, she asked Vandana to go back to her father’s place in Pune away from Raigad. For carrying out his research he applied for procuring funds to different agencies but in vain. Then he asked his mother for monetary help but she expressed her reluctance as she was to marry her daughter soon and her resources were limited. These two incidences affected Ajinkya mentally and with time he became a loner and eccentric after his mother’s death and sister’s marriage.

He soon begins to suspect that there are some people in the village who wanted to create hindrance in his research and started believing that the caretaker of the orchard Shivani, wife of his family’s servant Mandar is a Goddess who so lovingly takes care of his workplace, the orchard. After a few days, his sister Sunita invited Ajinkya to her house to celebrate her husband Girish’s promotion. While socialising at the party with other guests, Ajinkya started feeling uneasy in the crowd and he started behaving unusually, disrespecting the guests with foul language and unacceptable behaviour. Sunita tried to cool him down but his behaviour remained unchanged. Her husband Girish became upset due to Ajinkya’s s erratic behaviour towards his invitees. A doctor in the party, after examining Ajinkya, referred him to a psychiatrist.

After coming back home, Ajinkya kept on visualising and talking about the orchard, and his so-called Goddess Shivani. Vandana also made frequent appearances in his dreams. He had disillusion that Shivani got murdered by her husband Mandar for her kindness and full involvement in the upkeep of the orchard. The treatment of the psychiatrist although took care of Ajinkya’s s erratic behaviour but could not treat his fantasy and imaginary world of disillusionment. It was a difficult situation for the entire family and all of them were living under stress. Even Ajinkya used to take his medicines occasionally. Sunita asks Vandana not to meet Ajinkya anymore due to her apprehension of Ajinkya’s mental conditions to get worst.

As it is said that every cloud has a silver lining, the family met a social worker, Amruta Rane who was running a care center for mental sickness. She agreed to admit Ajinkya and the center started his counseling sessions. Ajinkya also came to understand that he has some mental issues and he needed to take responsibility for his own well-being. He decided to get rid of his mental illness with his determination and willpower. The counseling sessions, therapy given in the center, and changed the positive outlook of Ajinkya altogether took Ajinkya out of his mental sickness and he started looking towards life to achieve his goal of researching the mango species in Maharashtra. He returned back happily to Raigad with a new zeal. A piece of Good news was also waiting for Ajinkya in Raigad. Maharashtra government had accepted his application for the grant of funds to carry out his project. Learning this Ajinkya’s happiness knew no bounds. The story confirms the fact that with willpower, determination, and a positive outlook a person can achieve his goal.

About the Author: A postgraduate in English and Mass Media, Deepanshu Srivastava is a sports and fiction writer from Pune.

One Comment

  1. Very well written. Enjoyed the read.

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