Zain Murtaza Maken

Zain Murtaza Maken

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

That radio was what he craved

6:56pm “Will I see you on Thursday?” “Yes!” She smiled and hugged him before exiting the car. As he drove away, he turned on the radio, and waited. FM100. “Welcome back, listeners!” That voice. Why did she say those words just when he turned on the radio? Did she know that he would be waiting to hear exactly that? He felt a strange form of pleasure, and embraced it quickly. Wholeheartedly. As the radio show progressed, he slowed down his car and parked it on the side of the road. And listened. As she spoke, rambled, ranted and laughed. He laughed with her, from the comfort ...

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“It’s Chand Raat. He would want to be with family”

He looked again at the big slab of ice, big no longer. It had melted here and there, there and here. There was the memory of ice spread across the table. In zig zag lines, in the air around the table. In the future that was taking a leap into the past. Sometimes he thought his business was not really selling ice but buying time. And the sun was the vendor. The greater the sun’s heat, more the customers, but also greater the probability of the ice melting. Profit, loss. Loss, profit. On the hottest days, people flocked to him and in Ramazan, he naturally became the most important person. For those few hours, at least. He could ...

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Who should we write about?

Are the people we write about, The only ones that exist? These days, They say, It’s impossible to be alive, Without a voice, A presence. You’ve stopped asking why, But still they say, It’s important the world remembers, Remembers that you exist. But there are those, Who exist (and have existed), Without a word, Who think and act, And prefer not to write. Who live, And stand comfortably next to death, Unafraid, Unprotesting. These people, Hold on to their thoughts, Peeking at them at nights, And pushing them deep inside long overcoats during the day. They derive pleasure in the most insignificant things, And belittle the most significant ones, Who are these people? Who leave without a trace, Without fanfare, Or memorials, Or movies that display their pictures, Nor can people trace the length of their smiles, Nor are children named after them. And not even the bench has their imprints anymore. But maybe, we should call back our eyes, And search, now, in other places. Which ...

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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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