Outside my room I heard the sounds of the house slowly waking up. Dishes clattered as Ama cleaned the remaining plates from the party last night. Pawan’s TV hummed through the wall behind my head. I rubbed my eyes and rolled over on my side. The hard wood bed creaked beneath my weight. I opened one eye and saw that my watch read 6:30. I hadn’t slept past 7:00 since I got to Koshi. The streak had yet to end. I groggily sat up and looked over at the other bed to see if Meredith was awake. Her chest rhythmically rose and fell; she was in a deep sleep. I lifted the blue mosquito net from the crevice of my bed and swung my legs over the edge. My feet touched the rough mat. As I stood up and stretched my arms, little pieces of dirt collected between my toes. I looked in the hand held mirror and tied my hair in a top knot. My eyes struggled to adjust as I contemplated putting in my contacts. Finally, I peeled the case back and took out two new pairs. My hands guided the lenses into my eyes, and I blinked. The room slowly came into clear view. Still in my fleece pants and long t-shirt, I shuffled towards the door and tried to quietly open the lock. The door opened with a loud creak. Meredith was still asleep.
The curtain blocking Pawan’s room billowed in the wind. I pushed it to the side and made my way to the back of the house. Ama was squatting next to the open flame of the fire as Buwaa stirred the pot sitting atop the flames. I could tell by looking at the leafy greens that they were making the cow’s food. They heard the squeak of the chair on the concrete floor as I sat down. I looked up and met their eyes as they smiled and said subha prabhat. They continued their work. I watched them for a few minutes and then pulled on my sandals at the bottom of the steps and walked over to the water pump. I pressed the handle down and the cold water came rushing out. I splashed some on my face, immediately feeling more awake. The wind and rising sun dried my face. It was time to start my day.
I walked back to the stairs and slipped off my sandals. The cool floor greeted my feet as I crept back into my dark room. My unpacked clothes lay in stuff sacks next to my bag. I opened the orange one and pulled out my black running pants. I found the blue bag holding my shirts and felt around until I came across the one I wanted. I slipped out of my pajama and slid on my clean clothes. The smell of their detergent filled my nose. My clothes no longer smelled like home. I took out my top knot and ran my fingers through my knotty hair. I managed to wrangle it into a pony tail and braid the ends together. My socks from the day before lay on the mat by my feet. I picked them up and slowly opened the door again. I walked to find my tennis shoes at the bottom of the steps. As I loosened the laces and slid my feet into place, the dust rubbed off on my fingers. I tied the laces into a bow and stood up. Buwaa walked around the corner, and I motioned with my arms that I was going to go for a run. He nodded and said Namaste. I did it back and walked to the edge of the yard.
Motorcycles whizzed by as their honks signaled their approach. I waited until the road was clear and turned right on the paved path. My legs felt free as my stiffness left my body and my shoes hit the pavement. Slowly, I picked up the pace and fell into my rhythm. Each house I passed had mothers, and grandmothers, and children sitting on their porches waving as I ran by. One little girl even jumped out of her seat and started running next to me. The flapping of her flip flops grew fainter as I kept going. Cows, goats, chickens, and dogs lined the roads, all keeping a weary on me as I crossed their path. The paved road turned to dirt. The air filled my chest, and the views of fields never ended. It was beautiful. When my body tired I turned around and passed the same little girl who joined me earlier. She smiled and waved. The dirt road turned back to pavement as I got closer to my house. I saw my Ama in the distance tending to her potato plants and the baby goats playing with each other in the side yard. The house looked different to me in that moment. My heart felt full. I had reached the end of my run, finally arriving at my home.