Zain Murtaza Maken

Zain Murtaza Maken

A teaching fellow at Teach For Pakistan, he loves to write and read.

Unafraid

“Sir, it’s him again” “How many times has he come already?” “This is the seventh time, sir”. “Okay, might as well listen to him now. Bring him in”. “Yes, sir”. The man that came had a hunched back, as if the world around him had shrunk and he had adjusted accordingly. Adjusted perfectly, actually. It was the most comfortable hunch he had seen. “Salam sahib”. “Haan, what can we do for you?” “It’s about my son, he’s been detained by the police for over three months, and he hasn’t committed a crime. We just need your help sahib”. His personal assistant (PA) flinched around him, “Sir ...

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Deceptive lines

For a moment, Imagine, How our faces would look, If the lines, That our tears leave behind, Never went away. Imagine a skin, Which refuses to absorb, Any of these lines, And allows them to pave paths, On the cheeks, The lips, chin, and stretch till the neck. Would we, then, love one another more, Seeing, finally, the amount of grief. Would our fingers, Trace these lines, From head to toe, And feel the pain they carry. But would it then be impossible, To lift our faces, With the weight of each line, And would that hide half the world. Also, would we love less, Those who are unable, And/or disabled, From shedding tears. And it may push us to think, Those who don’t shed ...

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A servant’s dream; to be like Chris Mukhtar

“Those who are silent when others are oppressed are guilty of oppression themselves.” – Imam Hussain (AS) “Let’s go from a shorter way today. Take the second left, next to the barber shop.” “Yes sir.” As they turned, a group of mud houses came in sight, where children seem to be playing the same games they were years ago. She smiled. She glued herself to the right window and tried to take in each expression as a car passed with two inquiring eyes. The car slowed down as the road suddenly thinned and her sight got stuck with an oddity. A house unlike any ...

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Conversations and resistance

When does a leaf change colour? Is it in the middle of a night? Or in the day when no one’s looking? Is it when the wind gives it wings?   Or when it’s completely still? When the new one arrives, a packed luggage in hand, What does the old colour say? Does the guest get a single room, And take over each of the others, little by little?   How do colours allow themselves to be mixed, Giving up their arms so easily, Embracing the invasion and the invader? Why does the new colour leave behind, No trace of the old. When fingers trace a leaf’s texture, Can they feel the resistance, or a lack thereof, that ...

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Equidistant dots

He picked up his notebook, and he saw that it was filled with equidistant dots, page after page. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ...

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An open palm

“Are you alright?” “Just had the same nightmare.” His wife shook her head. “Why don’t you see a doctor? I’ve told you a hundred times.” This time he slowly shook his head, “A doctor can’t help with these. Can I tell you what I saw? (And without waiting) I’m sitting awake in this bed. You are next to me, asleep. Everything looks the way it’s looking right now, with the curtains drawn, the room cleaned and spotless except for the two plates on the table, and the dim light of the lamp falling on the bedside.” His wife looked around the room, confirmed the description, wondering ...

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Light lunchboxes

His daughter knocked on his door; only once. It was time for work and her school. He got up, stretching here and there, listening as individual muscles came out of slumber. After he was ready, he headed to the kitchen and opened the fridge. Each item appeared to be dripping. The electricity had been out throughout the night. He reached for the night’s leftovers and packed their lunch, first for her, and then for himself. She came to the kitchen shortly after. She was well-aware of her father’s strategies and how she ended up getting more of the leftovers. However she used to silently weigh ...

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The words not spoken

He had slept without removing his shoes. His parents watched him as they stood in the doorway. They smiled, went towards him and took off his shoes, one by one, gently, as if each had a life of its own. But his socks were quite moist and his feet felt cold. She looked at her son with concern, but her husband calmly motioned her to sit. Both of them sat as she wiped his feet with her hands and a cloth, and tucked him neatly into a blanket.  She switched the lights off, and as darkness submerged the boy’s room, they returned ...

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His shoes disgusted me

I was in the bus sitting next to him, trying hard to look away. I had never seen them so close – so broken before. Generally, the stitches were patterned, the shine was bright, and even when it was dull; they made the person complete, secure. But here, a small piece from the side was missing. There were threads that were coming out from the opposite side. I could see his brown sock and his foot was visible from a hole in it. And that sight – that incredibly normal sight of someone’s foot, but in a public setting, with ...

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The newspaper boy

He threw it inside the house and as he cycled forward and heard it land softly on the doormat. Great shot, he thought. There were three streets to go. And the light around him was slowly spreading. He continued. In the street before the last, he slowed down because he was nearing the house filled with flowerpots. Previous shots had broken some pots and invited anger from the owner whose life seemed to be divided into the dozens of pots she had. This time, though, he came near the gate and slowly hooped it inside. The sound of contact with ...

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