Things That Never Die
It is 06:17am, and I am late. While waiting for a bus, I am lost in thoughts, of how living can be a playlist on repeat: sleep, eat, work and other things lost in transit.
A bus arrives; I am on my way to Victoria Island, but first, Ojuelegba. In the bus, the man beside me looks like my dad. He, the man, has my dad’s kind of Polo on – with stripes. He is light skinned, with folds above his eyes. His neck sits like my dad's – backward, and tilted up a bit, like when he watches the news.
He catches me staring. I do not apologize. I look away. I search through my phone’s gallery, in between, I let out a tear. I am broken. There is no picture of me and my dad, unlike my siblings who have many. Though I bear his name, and he preferred to call me Junior, we were apart, in several ways.
Through the window, I stare, at shops still locked. I think of the owners, still sleeping. I wish for the same, but faced with a different reality. A job waits on the Island. A dawn to dusk job. Two seats away, a man makes me a reference point to his son. "Go to school so you can wear a tie like him." I smile.
Almost at my stop, a look at my phone; I wish to call my dad, to hear him speak for the last time.
#WriterPrompt is a regular flash fiction event we run on our Facebook page. Writers post stories in response to a picture, then workshop them with other participants and members of the SSDA team. Keem Tunde's story tackled grief, memory and expectation in a particularly elegant way.
Tell us a little about what inspires you to write and when you started to learn the craft?
KEEM: My first real exposure to the craft of creative writing was in 2012 through a social platform - 2go. Every day, I would visit the poetry rooms just to observe others write. Later, I started writing my own poems. In 2014, I wrote my first story and posted it on Facebook. The comments were encouraging, so I decided to put in more effort. I am still putting in effort.
My writings are inspired by everyday activities. I am interested in the little things that many might overlook; the bus ride from home to school, how the kids in my compound interact - what they say and how they say it, a picture or phrase etc. Over the years, my writings (especially poems) are influenced by people, places and pain. We all have our shares of pain. Haha!
Who are your favourite authors and why?
KEEM: Favourite authors? The list is endless, especially with the emergence of a new generation of African writers, I read based on mood. I have stuck with a few authors and works over the years though: say Mario Puzo's The Godfather, JD Robb's In Death series, TJ Benson's 'Tea' among others. Through media platforms, Facebook especially, new writers are emerging and they are changing the narratives; bringing new styles to the table. For every author I read, I am interested in how they depict human experience in their works.
What is next on your writing agenda, plus some writing tips that you found most useful?
KEEM: The next thing on my agenda is to continue to grow as a writer. It has always been my goal to be a better writer. It is only when I have mastered the craft that I will aim to publish a book. For now, I can only grow through platforms like SSDA, and, hopefully, I can put in for the annual competition in couple of years.
I have allowed myself to be guided by two writing tips over the years:
A. Writing is like music; it must have a flow.
B. Sometimes, writing stories take time. If you relax for a while and come back, you may find errors that weren't visible before.
Keem Tunde is a graduate of Mass Communication from The Polytechnic Ibadan. He lives in Lagos where he doubles as a writer and street photographer.