Sandra Belema in a cup of tea

Cup of Tea is the title of an anthology of poems written by Sandra Belema Ekine. The entire collection is considered Belema scribbles. It is a paperback collection of 118 pages, 60 poems, and 15 paintings in pictures. Published in 2020 by Livingstream and Branches Publishing, the foreword to the anthology is written by Kesiena Aiwemhenle.

Among the genres of literature, poetry is the most recondite and difficult to understand. It is written with various figures of speech. Other branches or genres of literature are: fiction, fantasy, science fiction, mystery biography, drama and non-fiction. I am one of a few literature students who like poetry. This is because from an early age, I used to speak in puns, metaphor, allegory, hyperbole and innuendos, which is why I love reading poems at my leisure hours.

In reading the Cup of Tea anthology, my love of literature was rekindled. What fascinated me in this author’s collection was the openness of the poems to varying interpretations. Beyond rhymes and lyrics, the poems ignited in the reader, new vistas of epistemological systems of analytical reasoning and cognition. The author, Sandra wrote these poems at various periods in her life. Thus, the book reflects moods, atmospheres and seasons.

Competition for rewards in the use of words and images sponsored by various media and business organisations in their hunt for talents in the episodes such as BB Naija and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire television contests has exposed money hunters to the reading of literature. According to the author, this anthology is a collection of poems written randomly in her journal. For that, I enjoin you also to keep a daily journal of events in your life. I keep a journal too.

Two of her quotations justifying the title given the book will regale you in as much as poetry was created to entertain the intellectual nobility: “In my own hands I hold a bowl of tea; I see all of nature represented in its green colour. Closing my eyes, I find green mountains and pure water within my own heart. Silently sitting alone and drinking tea, I feel these become a part of me” — Sen Soshitsu.

Another follows: “If man has no tea in him, he is incapable of understanding truth and beauty” —a Japanese proverb.

Unholy matrimony is the title of the first of her poems that catch my fancy. As a woman poet she brings her female orientation to the song on marriage. The man should ask what the lady wants while the inamorata shall enquire what the suitor needs. She writes him an epistle while he sings her a psalm. He provides her all she needs and she avails him all the comfort.

The lady hides all the gifts in her purse while the suitor buries his soul in her bosom. Though pseudo is her first name, grabby is his surname. When they’re joined together in holy matrimony, they bring forth offspring of empty promises and extant hypocrisy. “Ask them what they are doing!! Ask them what they will do!

“And like ostriches, their heads bury in the sand/Their buttocks hang loose in the air,
Like they just don’t care.”

Sandra Belema Ekine is from Rivers State of Nigeria. Born in 1990 in Lagos; moved with her family to live in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital. She spent her formative years as well as her basic tutorial and tertiary education there. She presently lives in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja where she works in the administration of the realm. The life of Sandra’s dream is to immortalize her name, touch more lives and make a difference in the world. Cup of Tea is the first anthology of her poems.

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