For a year and a half, I was Brooke and this name had been my identity on WordPress and Facebook. I had grown so used to it, I almost forgot my real name which is Shumila Malik. I have never been fond of my real name. I don’t feel interested in anything Pakistani. The local culture has never fascinated me and I have never been able to conform to the Pakistani society or its norms. I’m a Muslim and Pakistan has even modified Islam according to its own needs. So, basically, anything local is not really my thing.
Moreover, I’m head-over-heels for English language and the western culture, and their independent way of life has appealed to me since I was a little girl. With all that in my mind, Brooke seemed like it was the perfect name for me.
After a year or so, my best friend said I should change my name back to the original one and reveal to the world my real identity. Also, many Indian and Pakistani people online presumed I was someone from a foreign country. Many even thought I was male. It was the male thing that irritated me the most! Once on a discussion group on Facebook, one of the members thought I was Mr. Brooke. In fact, it happened more than once when people assumed I was a man though my profile picture shows an animated girl. Repeatedly explaining everybody that I was a girl, and that Brooke was a female name literally got on my nerves. And so, I decided to take my friend’s advice and now I am the real me, Shumila Malik from Pakistan!
But am I really the real me now?? The girl inside me feels otherwise. The name Brooke had a profound effect on me. It was not just some western name I had chosen to be known online. It felt so close to my heart. It reflected who I really was. It made me feel so confident and so myself. Shumila, on the other hand seems so disconcerting; it feels like an impostor! It’s like Shumila is insignificant; imbecile and unfit while Brooke was wild and free and unconstrained yet possessed a grace that Shumila apparently lacks.
When I was Brooke, I felt like the intoxicating English wine, served with fresh strawberries like they did in Pretty Woman. Being Brooke was liberating. It was a journey towards a vivid dream, and totally exhilarating! Shumila, on the other hand feels like some escaped convict; more like a fugitive chasing liberty.
I know I cannot renounce my identity or my origin, and even if I did, I would end up with a conflicting image and it would definitely mess up with my head. So, after a deep thought into the subject, I have now decided to accept my real name, my real identity, with some local flavour concocted that surely makes me all the more spicy and interesting!!
Written by Shumila Malik