Reuben Alagar Sundararajan.
That is my baby boy’s name. It suits him perfectly, somehow. I love when a name just seems to match a person, and I feel that both my kids have names that suit them well. Alagar is a family name. Somehow it skipped JP, but the rest of the first-born males on his dad’s side (dad, grandfather, great-grandfather, and so on,) have Alagar as part of their name. One of the joys of being in India is seeing all of the living Alagars together, especially since JP’s grandfather moved in with JP’s parents after our last visit. It is good to see “Big Tata” happily surrounded by family, relishing his role as great-grandpa.
Reuben is a bit more gregarious than his big sister was at this stage, and has thoroughly enjoyed the attention lavished on him by his family members. Big Tata is what we call JP’s grandfather, and Reuben is enamored with Big Tata. Big Tata spends a good amount of time sitting in a chair at the top of the ramp that connects the office building to the stairs that go up to our apartment area. I pass him multiple times a day carrying Reuben in my arms, and as often as Big Tata has some sort of commentary or question to pose to Reuben, Reuben has a smile or a squeak to offer in response. They have an adorable relationship. I have no idea what they talk about really, but it sure seems pure and joy-filled.
One of the cutest things that Leila says is, “Hi, Family!” It is her own phrase, likely adapted from some conversation that we’ve had previously, but I get such a kick out of seeing her walk into a room and greet us with such affection and familiarity. Despite Leila’s on-going shyness with the world around her, one of the things that always makes her feel comfortable is family. Whether we are in the U.S. or in India, Leila loves her family.
It has been a real treat to watch her easily re-connect with her Tata and Ava here. She had just been getting comfortable enough with Tata and Ava on our last trip to go on the scooter with them for shopping. I was afraid that the distance would be hard on their relationship. However, we are now seeing the hours upon hours of Skype time that has taken place between visits pay off. There wasn’t a single bump in the road. From the first moment, Leila knew her India Tata and Ava, and has embraced life with them. Often, you can find her whiling away the evening by “cooking” all nature of food and snacks for her grandparents to nibble on (you gotta love Leila’s imagination,) not to mention the games of ball, swing rides, and hide and seek. It has also been a beautiful thing to watch Leila grow in relationship with her uncle and aunt … and certainly her cousin, Judith. You should have seen Leila race down the stairs as soon as her dad told her that Judith had arrived this morning.
Sometimes, for adults, fitting into a new country and culture can be tedious, or painful, or confusing. Trust me, I’ve had my moments. 😉 I had some concern that Leila, especially, would struggle to find her identity in India. I need not have worried. She is doing fine. This is her home. This is her family. That is enough for her, and I am beyond grateful. We might be a fourth generation of this family, but the history is longer, and the family tree casts a much wider shade that we can believe. It feels good to sit in the cool comfort of that shade, recognizing that we are a part of something. As my children sink down their own roots, they quietly and steadily draw me more intimately into the fold. I, too, am a part of this family. Each day I feel more certain that I can quietly claim that this is my India too, that I can walk into the room and say with a grin, “Hi, Family!”