memoirs-of-a-geisha chapter 15


«I suppose I could come up behind him and shout, so he jumped out,» I suggested.

This was a mistake. «Be serious,» Nobu said.

I know it wasn’t a very smart thing to say, but this was my first attempt at joking with a man. Then the Chairman leaned toward me.

«Nobu-san doesn’t joke about sumo,» he said, quietly.

«I don’t joke about the three things that matter most in life,» Nobu said. «Sumo, business and war.»

The announcer said the winning wrestler’s prize would be a great deal of money given by Nobu Toshikazo. Nobu was annoyed and said to the Chairman, «The money isn’t from me. It’s from Iwamura Electric. I’m sorry, Chairman. The man is a fool.»

«There’s no mistake, Nobu. After everything you have done for me and the company, it’s a small thing to do.»

«The Chairman is too kind,» said Nobu. «I am very grateful.» Later I found a magazine article about the Chairman’s company. I discovered that Iwamura Electric nearly went bankrupt in the early 1920s. Nobu found some new investors and saved the company. «I owe Nobu everything,» said the Chairman, in the article. He said that Nobu was more like a brother than a business partner.

The announcer welcomed us all and said the wrestlers were yokozuna — that’s the highest rank in wrestling. «Just like Mameha’s position in Gion,» as Nobu explained to me. But if Mameha spent as long getting ready before she did anything as these two elephants did, she would never get another party invitation. The wrestlers spent five minutes throwing salt all over the square and staring at each other, then one pushed the other out and it was finished.

The audience clapped and shouted, but Nobu said, «That wasn’t very good.»

Two more wrestlers went into the square. I felt that one ear was connected to my mind and the other to my heart. On one side I listened to what Nobu told me-and much of it was interesting. But I was always listening to the Chairman’s voice on the other side, as he talked with Mameha. I loved the sound of him.

The last fight was between a star wrestler called Miyagiyama, who was not quite as enormous as the others, and an especially huge man called Saiho.

«Hataki-komi,» said Nobu, excitedly. «Miyagiyama will use hataki-komi, you wait and see.»

And he did. The larger Saiho rushed at Miyagiyama and the smaller man used hataki-komi, which means he used the energy of the bigger man’s attack against him. He moved out of the way when Saiho ran at him and brought his hand down on the man’s neck as he ran past, so the rush of Saiho’s own attack took him out of the square.

Later, on our way back to Gion, Mameha turned to me excitedly in the rickshaw.

«We’re going to use hataki-komi against Hatsumomo,» she laughed. «She thinks her rush around the teahouses has earned more money for Pumpkin than I have for you, but we will see her running out of Gion like Saiho ran out of the square. Just keep Nobu-san interested in you. Everything depends on him and one other man. One of them will be your rescuer.»

I felt sick inside at the thought of this. I wanted my rescuer to be the Chairman.


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