Bhavarlal H. Jain, the founder and chairman of Jain Irrigation Systems Ltd, is widely known as
the man who changed the lives of millions of Indian farmers through his pioneering work in the
field of micro–irrigation. He has written a number of books in Marathi and English. This book
was originally published in Marathi as Ti ani Mi, and went on to become a bestseller. The book
has also been translated into Hindi.
There is a saying that one cannot judge a book by its cover. But in
this case, it is just the opposite. Readers who are familiar with the
author’s earlier book (The Enlightened Entrepreneur) would agree.
In this book, She & Me, the cover is even better illustrated and
more candid. That is why the title of the book is not She & I, but
She & Me; the ‘I’ takes a backseat. It is a journey of togetherness.
The book is the saga of the author Bhavarlal H Jain’s deceased wife
Kantabai. But it does not simply become a love saga. Rather it
elevates to a higher disposition: the importance of joint family and
thoughtful life partner. For example, his analysis of sanctity of a
joint family vis–à–vis the hypocrisy of a nuclear family hits the nail
on its head. In the process, the book keeps meandering to then and
True to the title, the book is a searing account of Jain’s passion and
compassion for Kantabai. A wife, daughter–in–law and mother, it
was a tough life for Kantabai. Balancing between a large family
and the ambition of a husband who grew from a small–time
kerosene oil trader to the head of one of India’s largest business conglomerates, Kantabai’s
contribution is felt everywhere. Jain’s portrayal of her as an ideal partner, a soul mate and not just
wife, is not forced upon his readers. It radiates through his outspoken views that has taken potshots at
things like dowry indulged by his own family.
Similarly, Kantabai’s views that education is what transforms housewives into home makers,
equipped as they are with better insight and training is enlightening. Or, her other view, ‘looking after
the elders in the family is gratitude, not servitude.’ Such sagacity in today’s parlance might be viewed
with skepticism or sheer denouncement, but that the original work, in Marathi, is a bestseller clearly
implies that there are significant number of buyers for such time–tested judiciousness. Herein rest the
hope that good taste and Sanskaar still prevail. Certain traits are inherent in a culture like this word
Sanskaar that does not have an English equivalent.
It is difficult to write a book which engagingly talks of one’s values and culture without being
preachy. That it is anecdotal helps, but there is something more that prompts the words of wisdom to
effortlessly wade across its readers. And that is the thought. Here he gives a fresh food for thought on
that evergreen concept of relationship: Any great relationship, including marriage, is about two main
things. The first is to discover the similarities and the second is to respect the differences. In that
sense, married life is a journey of thoughts, ideas and adjustments as much as it is a journey in time.
How come we never thought of relationship in this manner? It is like we have somewhat heard it
before but never listened to it till now through this book. It is as if such a world exists but in the
superficial world that we inhabit, we obviously never fathom.
There are very few books that one can truly gift to another that will stand the test of time. She & Me,
by Bhavarlal Jain, is one of them. It comes with a return gift, the making of that little known ethnic
Marwadi delicacy called Dupdi!