My Name


United States
40° 5' 30.804" N, 74° 21' 31.4892" W

Vinita was given her name,

Sophia was chosen.

Vinita corrals her three younger siblings, grasping  at the slippery emotion and stress

Sophia is calm and collected, held tightly, neatly

Vinita is the swirl of incense that fills the room with grounded tradition

Sophia is the modern culture, a new ideal

Sophia will grow up to be an activist, eloquently expressing her values

Vinita will focus on the problems at hand; she is the mediator and common ground in her family’s bickering and arguing

Sophia wears a symbol of privilege, a school logo sewn onto her polo

Vinita rides metro to school, confused as to why she feels embarrassed about it

Sophia involves herself in mass at school

Vinita attends with her family, uninterested

Vinita sounds lost on her lips, the syllables forced, without a fluent tone

Sophia fits, the soft letters click into place


Vinita and Sophia are the same person.


I was given the middle name Vinita at birth.

All my life, the foreign word would struggle against my tongue as it rolled out

So I learned to keep it locked up

I never told people that name

not adults, not friends

I was embarrassed by its abnormality

In grade school, when told to align by middle name, I placed myself randomly

Among the Elizabeth’s, Anne’s, and Claire’s I longed to have

I would fall silent when asked for a middle name, uttering

“I don’t have one”

How ironic, that a name

what should be one of my most familiar aspects

was so removed

and so strange to me


When I was a confirmant in eighth grade,

after grudgingly going to church every Sunday

I was given the opportunity to create a new name for myself

A new identity.

I chose a pretty one, named after a saint I knew little about

But it was a new name

Sophia fluttered out of my mouth with much more fluidity

At first, Sophia was the middle name I used at school

It blended better with the atmosphere I was surrounded in

Vinita was the name I used at home, it was implied

With my family and heritage that I had grown up with

The confusion grew over the years as my mother was white and Catholic

My father was Indian, no religion

Both manifestations of my internal yin and yang.


I still struggled with confidence,

afraid that one of the names would be unveiled in the wrong environment,

and more so because I didn't understand myself

and my dual identity enough

to be confident with it.


However, as time drew on,

I entered a new stage of truly discovering myself

I found passions and hobbies that I loved to dedicate myself to,

interests that I was actually good at.

I worked hard in school, and acquainted myself with a close group of friends

Who I knew love and appreciated me for myself.


Sophia started to take Vinita to school with her,

presenting on her heritage, wearing an anklet from India,

and slowly revealing her to close friends.

Vinita brought Sophia home,

taking friends on the metro with her.

Vinita took home her passions that Sophia often shared;

she opened up about her interests for film and the environment,

showing her family documentaries such as "Backfish" and "Cove".

Vinita encouraged her siblings to attend church

With the same positive outlook that she had

Sophia talked about her opinions

based on prior knowledge and experience

on cultural appropriation and Indian tradition.


Eventually, the identities merged into one.


In the end, my names are a combination of letters,

but they symbolise two halves to one whole.

I finally recognized that I am a soul composed of many personalities that

In fact

Exist harmoniously.

They are what shape me an individual,

and while I might act differently depending on the circumstance and environment,

I will continue to hold true to my identity as a whole.

I am Zoe Vinita Sophia Malhotra, names

and an individual,

that I proudly embrace.

This poem is about: 
My family
My community
Poetry Terms Demonstrated: 


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