Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Memoirs of a Geisha

Ok, so another 5hours down the day and I managed to read a soft copy of the book titled above. When I started, I was wondering what would it be, but by the time I finished it, I was glad I managed to read it. I had once heard, or may be read in some editorial somewhere (I need to believe that I have started forgetting minute details henceforth). So, getting back to the original thought, I once read - ' It is said that The Japanese Geisha can even take away and ease the pain of a Man's Soul' That was the day, when I first got curious about who and what a geisha was. But, then I formed a high opinion of it.

It was some odd 10-15 days ago that a friend gifted me with a soft copy of the book and I read it three ( ? )OK, 3-4 days ago. And today I re-read it quickly again in the evening later. I must admit, it did drive me off to google more about Geiko, Geisha and the culture, which I finished doing just before posting this note.

The culture **IS** soothing. It's almost spiritual, though its setting might not be. While to begin with, the girls might have been sold into prostitution and yes, there's the dark side of sold sexual slavery (legal on top), there however, is also an enthralling and detailed glimpse into how different prostitution is from being a Geisha and how a 'mistress' and a Geisha are different as well.

The Plot is simple - two sisters sold to a brothel, one kept to be a geisha, another ends up like a prostitute. The one training to be a Geisha, meets a popular Geisha in the house she stays and is trampled over by the senior Geisha, till her prospects are hopeless and she runs off to find her sister lured under a trap. Lucky to find the sister, they plan to succeed, while all that happens is that the girl is discovered and her Geisha training is stopped completely, for she cannot be trusted to make fortune any longer.

Through an unforeseen turn of events, Chiyo-chan's training restarts under a 'successful' Geisha till she becomes Sayuri, to have her old friend turned against her, her prospectives ruined, her mizuage raising a fortune and her being adopted as the daughter of the house to become 'Nitta Sayuri'.

How through the stumbles of her life Chiyo-chan, now Nitta Sayuri, survives war, survives one Danna (honestly only a horny and pot-bellied general, I imagined him to be, nothing better ) and another want to be Danna till she finds that her old friend now is revengeful and spoils her prospects with the Man she wanted as her Danna.

Hope finally returns to Geisha when she discovers that her desired Danna has discovered her devotion to him, and that the only man who knew her both as Chiyo-chan and Sayuri is finally about to embrace her for ever. She spends happy years after a financial arrangement is made by her now Danna with her Home, for sometime. After this, she decides to open a tea-house in the America, for she wants her Danna's family and daughters happy and married, while staying out of their way.


Now, like I said above, the plot is nothing extraordinary. The setting a little, but the most extraordinary are the insights and the statements along with the author's observations (the novel is autobiographic in narration). The realization that a tea-ceremony could be as serene as a worship ritual for a Geisha. That there were beautiful Geisha, popular ones and the successful ones. How sccess and popularity differ and what really means to be a Geisha. How tough the path is, but if you succeed, how rewarding too. On the other hand, how it can be completely destructive as well.

What I liked pointedly were two things:
* It's correlation with D/s lifestyle without mention of kink or over mention of sex and,
* The realization that spirituality is not in the act you perform but the spirit you perform it with.

And of course, a realization of how privileged I was in one way to enjoy a life of such luxury. And at the same time, how deprived, without the cultural upbringing that certain women manage to get (even when I pride myself for all that I know, in terms of art and activity as compared to many others).

And then, to top it all, was the realization that what I actually was being, was a competitive person, while a Geisha (in spirit, rather than dress and acts she performs - both sexual and non-sexual) cannot exist without humility and support from other Geisha :)

Long post? not sure, just a few reflections though:)

© anu (Exploring Myself)

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