“If you keep your destiny in mind, every moment in life becomes an opportunity for moving closer to it.”
Mysterious and seductive, I have always thought of a Geisha as someone possessing a sort of magical power that can make anyone unconsciously fall for her charm and earn her wealth.
I was wrong.
Not only is she not a sorceress with magic, but she is also subject to a special training formulated for an aspiring Geisha. For being a Geisha is not just an occupation; it is an art. A way of life.
These things are what I learned from reading Arthur Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha and it captures much of my misconceptions about the Geisha. Besides being a witch, people often think of a Geisha as a Japanese equivalent for a prostitute. I used to think that way too but this magnificent book just proved me wrong in every aspect.
Golden writes a true-to-life story of a retired Geisha (of course with a few minor twitches) and how the rigorous training ultimately determine much of the Geisha’s career. Geisha wanna-be’s start young and most of them were not a Geisha out of their desire, but of their family’s. Affluent families send their daughters to a special school to educate them on things they might need in their career as a Geisha such as dancing and tea ceremony.
I honestly couldn’t imagine myself being subject to that kind of training. With all the make-up and trips to the salon to have my hair styled, I know I wouldn’t survive – that’s pretty much a given. That’s why my level of respect for the Geisha is now paramount. Thanks to Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha, I regard these women not as mere entertainers anymore; they were the peace and joy the world needed when there was nothing but chaos and sorrow.
What made the book even more appealing to me was Golden’s creative and descriptive way of telling things. It was as if the whole scene was right in front of me and I can feel the breeze on my hair and the fragrance of the blooming Japanese street food that filled the air. He wrote so beautifully that even I shed a tear or two for the protagonist when she learned of her family’s death! (Spoiler Alert!) Because of this use of language, I didn’t feel bored or just skimming through the pages. I relished every word because each chapter just speaks straight to the heart. It might sound cheesy but wait ‘till you read it!
Lastly, I think what made the book even more powerful than is how women were portrayed in the book. Contrary to the ~oh-so-traditional~ belief, women were presented in the book as powerful and strong enough to lure even the richest man to the illusion of him being lonely and in need of some company. Not to mention the exhausting training they have to go through! Both mental and physical training and education were required and it was no joke.
Truly, this book opened my eyes to realities of life of the people I once thought were funny. Now, I have nothing but respect and a salute for them! Thank you, Mr. Arthur Golden for such an exquisite masterpiece!
P.S.: Oh, and did you know that Memoirs of a Geisha is already a major motion picture? Be sure to check it out!
About the blogger:
Romelie Annette de Leon is a graduating college senior from the University of the Philippines Los Baños, majoring in Philosophy. A youth leader and a media ministry head in Feast Lancaster (a religious community she belong to), she has been deeply in love with words ever since she learned language. Eventually, she became an avid and heavy reader to the point of reading a whole novel in one sitting! Her hobbies and interests besides books include photography, drawing, painting, music (she plays the guitar and the bass), and watching mixed martial arts on TV. When not busy, she kills time through playing with her dog and sleeping. She blogs at yesimokaythanks.tumblr.com.
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