My heart was beating fast. Mr. Park’s words were passing through my head as if they were music – I wasn’t thinking much about their meaning.
“Even a tenuki would be better than this move!”
Mr. Park had been scolding Tim for the last few minutes about his last move. Mr. Park was reviewing the game Tim and I just played, and the whole class was watching us. When Mr. Park spotted bad moves, he often raised his voice and repeated his explanations until he had felt enough. Sometimes he also asked questions, but without expecting us to reply.
“What were you thinking, huh? This move is way below your current level. What were you thinking? Tell me.”
The reason I was feeling nervous was because I knew my next move was bad. I let Tim get away with his mistake. The longer Mr. Park explained why it was such a terrible move, the more I felt worried about showing my next move. I was even thinking about pretending not to remember where I played, but I was pretty sure Tim would remember.
“Continue,” said Mr. Park at last.
“Um…” I hesitated.
“What, don’t you remember your move?”
Slowly, I placed my move. I could sense that the whole class was shocked by my bad move.
I looked down. I wondered if Mr. Park would hit my head with his Japanese fan, just as he often did when other kids made big mistakes. Brad said it didn’t hurt at all.
“Where should you have played?”
Mr. Park’s voice was calmer than I expected. I picked up my last move and placed it on the spot Mr. Park pointed out earlier. Of course everyone in the room knew the answer since Mr. Park repeatedly explained how this situation would be horrible for Tim.
I was puzzled. On one hand I was relieved that I avoided Mr. Park’s scolding, but on the other hand it didn’t seem fair. I was also worried about what other kids would think of me.
Tim placed his move, Mr. Park nodded in approval, and we continued with our moves.
“Let’s have a lunch break. Come back by one o’clock.”
Our lunch was supposed to be from noon to one, but it was already 12:20 because Mr. Park wouldn’t stop in the middle of a review. He also never offered to start the next lesson late, even if our class ran long. A few kids went to the student lounge with their lunch boxes, some went home, and Colin, Brad, and I headed towards Homemade Daily, our usual lunch and dinner spot, two floors down in the same building.
Homemade Daily was a small restaurant specialized in delivering food to nearby offices. They had no menu, and everyday the meal included some kind of rice, soup, a meat dish, an egg dish, and several other side dishes. The dojang had an arrangement with this place so that all students living in the dorm could have lunch and dinner here. Then, the restaurant owner would keep track of the meals, and send an invoice once a week. Some of the other students outside the dorm, like Sara, also joined this system optionally. When we arrived at the restaurant, some students were just leaving after their lunch, and some were busy still chatting and eating. We sat around an empty table, and one of the two ladies working there began bringing us dishes in her wide round tray.
“Nice that you beat Tim today,” said Colin.
“You beat him too, yesterday.”
“I know. But I thought he was good. Maybe I was wrong.”
His remark made Brad and me laugh. We both knew Colin was joking, because he was too nice to say something like this.
“Do you think Mr. Park’s easy on me because I am a girl?”
“I think he is usually easy on you when you won.”
Brad pointed out.
“Really? You think so?”
“That’s true, but I think he is a bit easy on Hajin.”
Colin said. Then, he added, “Well, lucky you.”
After lunch, Mr. Park gave a lecture on the Kobayashi opening, then we played more games, and got more reviews until dinner. There were no official classes after dinner, so I worked on the life and death problems from Master Grimm until Sara came to our classroom to pick me up.
“Can you help me with this problem?”
I pointed to the problem on my baduk board. I had been staring at it for more than 15 minutes.
“You have to exchange the push before you hane. Otherwise it becomes ko.”
Sara glanced at it and said.
“What if white plays here?”
“Then attach over there in the center.”
I was amazed how she solved it instantly.
“Oh… How did you solve it so quickly?”
“I just remembered the answer. You know, I did that book like three times.”
I quickly wrote down the answer in the book, gathered the stones from the board, and put them back into their bowls. It was 9:35 p.m., and I was glad Sara didn’t stay until ten o’clock like yesterday.