Entry #24 – July 20, 1997 / Sunday

“Did you sleep well?”

Sara’s mother asked me. I was sitting on a big leather couch in the living room, reading one of the books I brought from Daejeon.

“Yes.”

Before I replied, I quickly closed the book and stood up from the couch. I wasn’t sure if it was okay to answer her while I was sitting and she was standing.

“It’s okay, you can continue with your book. What do you usually have for breakfast?”

“We often have cereal or strawberry jelly sandwiches.”

“Oh. We always have a more traditional breakfast here. Is that okay with you? We think it’s important to start a day with lots of nutrition, especially for Sara.”

“Yes, I am okay with it.”

“Does your mother work?”

“Yes, she has an office job.”

“I see. I do some work at the temple, but I don’t go there until the afternoon. So I have more time at home.”

Now that she mentioned, I could tell there were lots of drawings and sculptures around the house related to Buddhism.

As Sara told me last night, the breakfast began after a short prayer. I didn’t understand some of the words her mother said, but I thought the overall structure was similar to the prayers I had heard at our church. On the table were a bowl of rice and a bowl of seaweed soup for each person, and a dozen side dishes to share – vegetables, eggs, and some meat.

“What’s your score so far?”

Sara’s father asked.

“Two and two.”

“You might stay with two more wins, but do try to have at least three more wins.”

“I will.”

“How many games do you have today?”

“Two.”

“Then bring Hajin home before dinner. You should sometimes take an evening off.”

“But other people will be still studying at the dojang. Master Grimm might say something.”

“Tell your Master that your parents asked you to come home early today for a family dinner. He will understand.”

“Okay.”

An evening off sounded nice to me, but Sara didn’t seem very happy.

There were even fewer people at the dojang. Colin and Brad said they were sharing a room with Aiden. They said Aiden was also in the league competition, playing in the 10th league. I wondered if he had already played Sara. I told them that I was staying in Sara’s room with her. I told them about my breakfast too, and surprisingly they said their breakfast was similar. Their kitchen had a big rice cooker and a fridge, and the fridge always had a big pot of soup and many different side dishes. Apparently there is a lady who comes in the afternoon to tidy the place and make sure there is enough food for everyone.

About five o’clock, Sara and other students returned to the dojang. I saw Aiden and Jeremy in the group too. Most of them seemed to be in a good mood, but Sara wasn’t. She came straight to me and said, “Hajin, let’s go.”

I followed her and noticed she wasn’t walking towards her house.

“Where are we going?” I asked.

“Just walking around. Maybe I can show you the park I like. It’s not far from here.”

“Did you not do well today?”

“Yeah… I lost both games.”

“But you will have three more games, right?”

“But I will probably have to win all of them to avoid being pushed out again. I am not sure if I can make it.”

She seemed stressed.

“Ah, I wish my dad didn’t ask us to have dinner at home today. It would be so much better to eat with other kids and go home late.”

I didn’t know what to say. So I just followed her to the park.

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