“Now I know that our world is no more permanent than a wave rising on the ocean. Whatever our struggles and triumphs, however we may suffer them, all too soon they bleed into a wash, just like watery ink on paper.”

Reading novels is not one of my favorite jobs and yet I often find myself to be one of those passionate readers who would not let go of the book till it’s finished. I tend to read very less and at the times when I do, I forget what’s happening in the world around me till I’m done reading the book. No wonder when I say that I often end up jeopardizing plans of important tasks at these times.

So last week I got hold of the novel called ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’ written by Arthur Golden in 1997. Among all the magazines, I particularly enjoyed reading the ‘Readers’ Digest’ the most and this is where I first came to know about such a novel on which a movie was later made and released in 2005. I never really made an effort to collect the book from anywhere for which I never really got to read it regardless of the interest I took in it. And then last week searching for a file in my computer, I came upon this novel that was sitting right there in a folder containing a collection of novels suggested to me by a teacher of mine long time back. This time I made no mistake to miss the opportunity of reading it. So I took up the book of 337 pages and finished it in 3days (it’s a big deal for me haha)!

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The book was not only interesting right from the first page, or shall I say, from the first paragraph, but it was also composed of so many beautiful examples that you would not be able to help yourself from relating to it. The examples were given so that the reader may vividly comprehend the conditions of the main character, and here I am who ended up feeling that throughout the book the character was me.

The term ‘geisha’ is used in Japan meaning ‘artist’ who acquire skills on singing, dancing, playing music instruments (shamisen, a Japanese guitar-like instrument), making conversations and most importantly, pouring sake on tiny cups gracefully for the purpose of entertaining those who are interested, especially men. This term refers to a particular group of women who are brought into this profession by mere misfortunes. Some of them are brought into these places called ‘okiya’ (boarding house of the geisha) by being sold very early in their innocent lives. In modern era as today, these are the very women whom we know as prostitutes.

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The entire novel was written in a way where the main character, Sayuri, tells the story of her life of how she became a geisha and all the struggles that followed with it. After I was done reading the novel, I was very delighted to find the movie available online as I was visualizing all that were written in the book. The best part of finding a movie based on a novel you read is that you can compare how much of your visualizations are matching with the scenario portrayed on display. And in my case, I found the movie to be corresponding with my imagination completely and I decided to give this credit to the writer who wrote with such clarity.

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While reading, there were such poignant words that I couldn’t resist but take notes of. And I am very glad that ever since my childhood, I have never let go of the chance to collect the words that touched my soul instantly. So here is the collection that I took from the book and placed it in a little corner of my heart, I may never remember the words for long but I will never forget the intense emotion that I felt when I read it:

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  “We human beings are only a part of something very much larger. When we walk along, we may crush a beetle or simply cause a change in the air so that a fly ends up where it might never have gone otherwise. And if we think of the same example but with ourselves in the role of the insect, and the larger universe in the role we’ve just played, it’s perfectly clear that we’re affected every day by forces over which we have no more control than the poor beetle has over our gigantic foot as it descends upon it. What are we to do? We must use whatever methods we can to understand the movement of the universe around us and time our actions so that we are not fighting the currents, but moving with them.”

“Grief is a most peculiar thing; we’re so helpless in the face of it. It’s like a window that will simply open of its own accord. The room grows cold, and we can do nothing but shiver. But it opens a little less each time, and a little less; and one day we wonder what has become of it.”

“Adversity is like a strong wind. I don’t mean just that it holds us back from places we might otherwise go. It also tears away from us all but the things that cannot be torn, so that afterward we see ourselves as we really are, and not merely as we might like to be.”

“We lead our lives like water flowing down a hill, going more or less in one direction until we splash into something that forces us to find a new course.”

“This is why dreams can be such dangerous things: they smolder on like a fire does, and sometimes they consume us completely.”

“I never seek to defeat the man I am fighting, ” he explained. “I seek to defeat his confidence. A mind troubled by doubt cannot focus on the course to victory. Two men are equals – true equals – only when they both have equal confidence.”

 “If you keep your destiny in mind, every moment in life becomes an opportunity for moving closer to it.”

“You cannot say to the sun, ‘More sun,’ or to the rain, ‘Less rain.’ To a man, geisha can only be half a wife. We are the wives of nightfall. And yet, to learn kindness after so much unkindness, to understand that a little girl with more courage than she knew, would find her prayers were answered, can that not be called happiness? After all these are not the memoirs of an empress, nor of a queen. These are memoirs of another kind.”

“A tree may look as beautiful as ever; but when you notice the insects infesting it, and the tips of the branches that are brown from disease, even the trunk seems to lose some of its magnificence. ”

“I stumbled out into the courtyard to try to flee my misery, but of course we can never flee the misery that is within us.”

“Flowers that grow where old ones have withered serve to remind us that death will one day come to us all.”

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2 thoughts on “These are Memoirs of Another Kind

  1. Your blog is beautiful, Polomi. I have just a few moments on my lunch break to peruse it. I enjoyed reading about your encounter with _Memoirs of a Geisha_. I encourage you to read many more novels and let serendipity guide you. If you’re like me, you’ll find that you’re thinking about something only to see the same idea (or an interesting variation of it) in the novel you just happened to pick up. Happy novel-hunting to you!

    Liked by 1 person

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