It is not for Geisha to want. It is not for a Geisha to feel. Geisha is an artist of the floating world. She dances, she sings, she entertains you… What ever you want… the rest is shadows, the rest is secret.
One of the bestseller of the decade, Memoirs of Geisha by Arthur Golden surely wins my thumbs up for it comes across as an enchantingly told story of a geisha from the Japanese district of Gion . The story revolves around Sayuri who has been introduced to an entirely new world of art, beauty, skills and the mysticism of being a geisha . Sayuri as a novice( an apprentice geisha) faces the worst of time as at an early age she loses both her father and mother. To add up to her sorrow her only sister is separated from her who ends up being a prostitute . Poor Sayuri , a victim of sorrow, grief and fate feels her life had turned into hell as she ends up in Nita okiya( house named after their owners). She faces hatred and is enslaved by Hatsumomo who is the tormentor of Sayuri , one of the most seductive geisha and the daughter of the Nita okiya. But there was something about the eyes of Sayuri which held everyone spell bound.Her beauty gets noticed by Mameha who is the most famous geisha of Gion . Sayuri who already owes a huge debt to the okiya for feeding her and keeping her alive finds it difficult to leave the okiya and meet her long lost sisiter. In the course of time Mameha sets the proposal to become the elder sister of Sayuri. Miss Nita ( the mother of the okiya) accepts the proposal with the condition that Mameha would settle her debt and provide her with additional amount for investing her time in Sayuri. In the course of time as Sayuri transforms from a girl to a woman, she is introduced to a world of beautiful kimonos, obi’s which she always envied for.As she learned dancing skills and music she became an impressive geisha and came into contacts with Nobu Toshikazu and the chairman who were the owners of the Iwamura electricals. Both Nobu and chairman enjoyed her company and saw of her often .On the other hand with every move aimed at destroying Hatsumomo who made life so dreadful for Sayuri Mameha begins the bid for her misuage (virginity). There were several bidders for her misuage including Dr Crab and the baron(patron of Mameha). But as destiny revealed its true colors Sayuri’s misuage was bid for the highest amount ever, even higher than that of Mameha herself. As Sayuri saw Hatsumomo succumb to the fire of jealousy Sayuri had the most promising future as she became the daughter of the okiya. Amidst so many changes, what remained unchanged were the feelings of Sayuri towards chairman to whom she wanted to give it all…her heart, her body and her soul.The chairman was the first and the last love of her life, her soul mate and eventually her desired danna.
But with the great debacle faced by Japan towards the end of the century, all the geisha districts were closed down including Gion. It was the beginning of the doom of the Japanese culture . Sayuri was reduced to a mere farm worker where her hands were drenched in the dyes instead of the white make up powder. But Sayuri was a blessed soul . While other geishas either ended up as prostitutes or died of poverty Sayuri was safe and sound but the life as a geisha became history for her. And then destiny took another turn . After three long years Nobu Toshikazu came to meet Sayuri and asked her to go back with her and entertain some of his guests which could save his only own source of income the Iwamura Electricals ltd which was on the verge of closure. Sayuri who felt she was burried from head to toe in the debts of Nobu for his kindness could not refuse . Finally she reunited with Mameha to help Nobu. To add on another helping hand Sayuri approaches her friend from okiya – Pumpkin . Together they escort the chairman and Nobu to entertain their guests , serving sake to them and presenting dances and special geisha performances.In the course of time the general from America develops feeling for Sayuri and got attracted to her physical attributes. Reluctant to entertain him, Sayuri argues with Nobu which adds to his problems. But as Nobu had been so kind to him, she decides to spend time with the general. She plots a plan wherein Pumpkin would call up Nobu to the room where Sayuri and the general will be together just to prove the point that Sayuri has kept her promise. But Pumpkin intentionally brings up the chairman- the reason – chairman was also the love of Pumpkin whom Sayuri had snatched away. Betrayal came as a shock to her and she returns back to Gion thinking that it was the end of world for her for she had lost her true love. But a geisha is to live and her desires are to be filled. Soon Nobu came to know that Sayuri loved chairman so he decided not to become the danna of Sayuri and went away forever. And to her astonishment on one spring morning she met the chairman . She tried to clear the air between them but felt speechless. Her silence conveyed everything as the chairman raised her face up and gave a peck on her cheek. The dilemma was gone……the harrowing sadness was surpassed…….what was only left was silence silence and only silence.
The chairman became the danna of Sayuri and she officially left the world of geisha and set out to live with the chairman in New York. She opened her own traditional Japanese tea shop where she occassionaly entertained the guests, spent time with chairman and had long talks with old friends from Japan and Mameha. Years later the chairman passed away and Sayuri only had his pleasnat memories to remeber.Today somewhere in those busy streets of new york still lives the good old geisha who enertained us and danced her way through life for rest lies behind shadows, for rest is secret.
PS- The images are a part of the movie “Memoirs of a Geisha”.