Daikan wasn’t the only one to earn the instructors’ wrath. “No! No, no, no! Come on!” As the meal progressed, the yells grew steadily louder and more menacing. The sound of slaps rang out ceaselessly
“What’s this? You don’t want to eat? Fine, then don’t!” Tenshin had mistakenly laid his chopsticks across his still-empty bowl. The servers passed him by without stopping.
Enkai had the opposite problem: miso soup being poured into his bowl spilled over the edge and ran down onto the tatami while he watched aghast, not knowing what to do.
Doryu got punched in the stomach and dropped his bowl.
Daikan finally managed to lay out his bowls properly by copying his neighbor, but from then on his every move earned him another slap or punch. In the end, he was grabbed by the scruff of the neck and dragged down off the platform. As he lay on the floor in fright, the instructors kicked him.
Yuho, Kijun, and Choshu somehow managed to keep up with the servers, but their bodies were rigid with effort, their eyes wide open and unblinking as they hurriedly crammed food into their mouths and gulped it down without chewing.
For all of us, the acts of eating and drinking were carried out in a state of abject terror. The least mistake brought an instant cuff from one of the eagle-eyed senior trainees standing watch. The food had no taste; there was no sense of enjoying a meal. The pace was fast and it took intense concentration to keep up. Now the chopsticks. Next the lap cloth. You had to confirm each step mentally before you could act.
If you paused to savor the food, before you knew it, second helpings were being served and you had to rush to get your share. If you took time eating that, next thing you knew the servers were coming around with tea, then hot water. Even after we’d memorized exactly what to do and the routine grew familiar, there was never any time to linger over our food.