“Memoirs of a Geisha” by Arthur Goldengave me sleepless nights and threw my mind into a trance for a few days until I finished the book.
I must say, this is one of the best novels I’ve read yet about that part of the Japanese culture. The author’s narrative technique, his style of implementing the power of visuals through apt imageries that made me continuously picture a Geisha through my mind’s eye not only held me spell bound for days of the reading but also, enchanted me. I started wishing I could dress like one for just a few minutes and walk around the streets of Lagos to see if I could draw the same attention like Sayuri San did on the streets of Gion. I felt like I had met a long lost sister through her character (I absolutely still can’t figure out why).
Sayuri San (while she was still a peasant)
Sayuri during her dance performance
Sayuri as a full blown Geisha
My God! Arthur Golden is a storyteller! I was completely lost and totally sold out to the book. However, what fascinated me the most, what completely marveled my sense of imagination was the fact that the life of a Geisha still exists in all it’s true form, in this modern day. It exists here, live in Lagos! Geishas, be them the “Apprentice” or the full blown “Geisha” are the modern day “Runs Girls” you know.
The life of Sayuri San is the perfect example of the tale of the lives of some “runs girls” around us today but the amazing thing for me while reading the book is the clash of cultures; of the old Japanese and the, should I say Nigerian? well, I’ll say modern day culture.
I was amazed to find out that Geisha’s were highly respected and placed several classes above the regular prostitutes to the point that they had a structure which began with them belonging to an “Okiya” (a family by blood or by adoption mainly for the business). That way, they had some root of some sort in that society. And then, they had to be registered, trained for years at different art schools of dance, music, tea service and playing the “Strings”. They were in fact groomed for the role and the young Geisha’s virginity was sold to the highest bidder!
The Geisha could gain a bit more luxury if she succeeded in gaining the attention of a wealthy “danna” or “Sugar Daddy” as you may put it. They might end up marrying if the “danna” was single (rarely). If not, she was only a mistress to be stowed away, far from the man’s family but known by his friends and associates as his jewel and recognized by the society as his mistress. Even the wife of the “danna” is aware! Because, the Union between the Geisha and her “danna” is celebrated as a ceremony, like a mini wedding!
Check out my next post as I’ll do a comparison between an old time Geisha and our modern day Runs girl.
What a world! What a book!