I was busy eating my meal when the heavy knuckle landed on my forehead. It was my father who was teaching me table manners. I was puzzled and I looked at him bewildered. It was quite a heavy and painful knock. I looked at him timidly through my watery eyes. But he just said the word, "Think what you have done."
It was a tradition in my family not to go against the wisdom of the elders. So I sat down quietly, thinking and examining others while everyone was eating together around the table.
Then I noticed that other people were sitting upright while I was slouching. I was leaning against the table, supporting my weight with my left arm while eating with my right hand. I was punished because I hunched over my plate and I was plain lazy. My food spilled everywhere on the table and on the floor.
And I noticed that other people were eating their food slowly, enjoying every single bit of it. But I was overfilling my mouth with food and ate like a glutton. I was eating too fast and swallowing my food so much that I looked ugly and others were giving me a disgusting look. I was punished because I didn't appreciate the food that took some time to prepare.
And I noticed that other people were closing their mouth when they chewed their food. But I was talking aloud while eating. And my food and saliva were flying everywhere. I was punished because of my inconsiderate and thoughtless behavior.
Then I noticed that other people were keeping their legs close to their chair while I was stretching my legs kicking and disturbing others. And I was watching other children, playing and teasing with them. I was punished because my mind was distracted on other things and not on food. I wasn’t single-minded in my focus.
Sitting down in one corner of a restaurant, I scrutinized other people's table manners. Many were talking with their mouth full. Some were farting and making the room smell. Some were burping and belching after the meals. They were blowing their nose and throwing the tissue on the ground. Some were picking at teeth with a toothpick or finger. Some were grooming or putting on makeup at the table...
Then I smiled to myself, touching my forehead, thanking my father for the heavy knuckle.