2. Apr, 2017

Time flies

I cannot believe it´s Sunday already. What happened to the last week? But, according to my calendar it is, so I suppose I have to believe it.

Have you had a good week?  I do hope so. In any event a little light reading for you on this bright and sunny Sunday...

A long time ago, and in a land that was far away and full of mystery lived a girl who dared to challenge tradition. A girl who was true to herself, no matter what life had to throw at her. Midori No Me;  the Geisha With the Green Eyes continues her story.

The story of the Dragon Geisha.....

"The smaller vessels scudded before our larger ship like flustered children, disturbed in their games by the arrival of an unexpected but much loved elderly relative. I sucked in a breath, sure for a moment that a particularly tiny ship had been taken down by our bows; but no, there it was popping out on the far side, unharmed. I knew from a past journey that it would be hours before we actually docked in San Francisco harbour, so I took the chance to go back to my cabin, and changed from my kimono and obi into Western dress; a long skirt and a blouse, topped by a jacket. I pulled the combs out of my hair and rearranged my curls so that they could be topped by a hat and a veil. Scrubbed my traditional make-up off and replaced it with no more than a dab of face powder. Checked myself in the mirror and frowned at my reflection, wondering – not for the first time, and no doubt not for the last - which woman was the real me?

Back on deck, I smiled at my dinner companion from the journey. He was leaning on the rail, watching San Francisco speed towards us. He raised his hat to me uncertainly, and it was clear he had no idea who I was. I watched the expression in his eyes change from puzzlement to greed in a second, and my smile froze on my lips. He had been an avuncular companion on the long sea journey across the Pacific, regaling me with stories of his travels the length and breadth of America, telling me constantly how glad he was to be back, and how I would soon come to love his country as much as he did. Politeness forbade me to explain that I had lived in America for the last two years, and no longer regarded it with any terror at all. Instead, I nodded and smiled and allowed him to pick out the choicest dishes at dinner for me, although even politeness couldn´t make me accept his choice of rare beefsteak. Henry-san had been hurt by my horror at first, and then clearly amused when I explained that my religion forbade me eating anything that came from a creature with four legs. I forced myself to watch him eating the bloody flesh, even managing to speak without showing so much as a shudder.

Experience should have told me that I ought not to have been either surprized or hurt by the change in my new friend, but I was.

“Henry-san?” I murmured hopefully, watching as his mouth opened and closed but no words came out. He wore dentures; I had often hidden a smile as I had watched him fight with the tougher cuts of meat, and now his upper set slipped and collided with the bottom teeth with a distinct click.

“My God. Midori No Me? I barely recognised you in those clothes, and without your make up.”

I smiled sweetly and thought; liar. You didn´t recognise me at all. You thought I was some woman who had popped up out of nowhere. Some woman who was … available.

I didn´t say anything. I simply lowered my head and watched him from beneath my eyelashes. Obviously flustered by his mistake, Henry san took my hand and guided it through his arm, giving it a little pat of reassurance as our ship bumped and nuzzled into the harbour. It was unforgivably rude of him to touch me uninvited and I stiffened, fighting the urge to pull away and reclaim a respectable distance from him. He stank, as well. He reeked of meat and butter and milk, as if the smell was seeping out through his pores from inside him.

And then I realised the mistake was mine, not his. We were no longer in Japan, where such a public gesture of affection between mere acquaintances would have been unthinkable. No longer in Japan, where it was a constant joke that one could smell the gaijin before they could be seen. We were back in America. Back in my new home.

I had only spent a couple of months in Japan, and already I was a geisha again.

Henry-san was chattering away, but I barely heard him. I nodded and smiled automatically, my thoughts dancing like fireflies as my mind was caught and pulled here and there by my two worlds.

I searched the quay side for Danjuro, my husband. Useless, there were too many people ranked there to make out a single figure. I thought I saw him, and half raised my hand to wave, then decided I was wrong. It wasn´t him. Never mind, in a few minutes I would see my husband, and then I would truly be home.

My breath hitched as panic consumed me with a physical pain, gripping my stomach and squeezing so that bile rose in my throat. Home? Was this really home, this place that was suddenly foreign to me again? I wanted to turn, to run back to my cabin, to stay there until the ship turned round and went back across the great ocean.

Back to Japan.

Back to where I belonged.

I stared at San Francisco, growing larger by the moment. It shone in the sun and the sunbeams winked off the windows of the high buildings all along the waterfront. In spite of my confusion, at least it was familiar.

 It had all been so very different, last time."