Title : Memoirs of a Geisha
Author : Arthur Golden
Publisher : Vintage Books
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Now a major motion picture.
“If you keep your destiny in mind,every moment in life becomes an opportunity for moving closer to it.”
This is one of the many books I have happened to read in various train journeys. April has been a month of roaming around India and I had this book as friend in all these trips.Why do you read a book? There can be many answers to this question probably one of the reason will be that without them we would have never known about historical events and multitude of cultures. There are many aspects worth mentioning of this book and let me start with the Geisha culture in Japan which thrived abundantly in the second World War era.Geishas were the glamorous female entertainers in Tea houses in Japan who entertained their clients by dancing,singing and playing music.Though on paper it may seem trivial and hardly a art form , on reading the book we completely understand not only the hardships that one has to undergo to become a geisha but also the intricate details of the art form.One is carried to a journey from beautiful girls,pompous kimonos,laughter , music to darker side of the profession and the despair and sacrifice of a young woman.I appreciate this book mainly for bringing out a tradition of the Japanese.
One of the most interesting and often overlooked part is to understand how an author came up with the book. Arthur happened to visit one of the tea houses at Kyoto in 1936 where he saw a Geisha perform.The experience had left a deep mark on him and 50 years later when he happened to meet Sayuri,our protagonist he wrote her extraordinary memoir.Born in a small village of Japan in a Fisherman’s house,sold at a very young age to a Geisha house,the enormous effort to become a geisha and ending up in New York is something Sayuri would have never envisaged of but this is how destiny plays in mysterious ways.The author has really empathized with Sayuri and therefore is able to bring out the emotions so immaculately.It is also a tale of hope, of fighting out a way in adversity and of accepting what life has to offer.But the most important take away from the book is professionalism.To quote a line from the book,“We don’t become geisha because we want our lives to be happy;we become geisha because we have no choice.”
The author has made use of imageries all through out the book and the ones where Sayuri describes events and things as a child are really enticing.Some people live a very hard life and some a dark life. For Sayuri it was a life of struggle physically,emotionally and professionally. The most difficult thing in life is do something which one does not want and then sometimes it so happens that one is left with no choice whatsoever. When Sayuri saw a geisha for the first time in a beautiful kimono she was awestruck and wanted to become one.She did become a successful one but in the journey she had the conflict of profession and that of heart.There are lots of twists and tales in this tale,plenty of eroticism,imagination and play of destiny.Do read this beautiful tale which will seal your faith in destiny.
“Since the day I’d left Yorido,I’d done nothing but worry that every turn of life’s wheel would bring yet another obstacle into my path;and of course,it was the worrying and the struggle that had always made life so vividly real to me.”