It was nearly midnight when I pulled on the creases of my book and stretched out its spine. My eyes glossed over its pages with a smoky exhaustion. I placed the folded novel on my chest and felt it rise towards my nose with a long inhale. I breathed out, closed the book shut, and gently tossed it on the floor. I reached to turn the lights off and curl into a ball, welcoming sleep, when my Nepali phone dinged: a text message.
A text message pretty late at night. I thought about ignoring it, but instead got up and saw who it was from.
It was from Subeksha, one of my colleagues who I had developed a close bond with. While a few years younger than me, and born and raised in Kathmandu, I felt a sameness between us. Subeksha is a quiet, reserved girl, yet once you open her up, you discover a deep world of strength, snarkiness, and compassion. If she lets you in.
She was upstairs at the house I was staying in, and asked if she could come to my room. I replied with a "I'm half asleep but why not," and she quickly came down, keeping the lights off, and climbing into the bed next to mine.
"Laura, there is so much work to be done, I don't know where to begin!" she told me. I replied something along the lines of "well, it's midnight, so I suggest you don't begin right now."
She's stubborn. While I turned over to go to sleep, she asked if it would be disruptive if she kept working in my room. I told her it was fine.
And that's when I heard the tapping. While I listened to rural Nepal's normal night sounds—bugs chirping, a jackal howling, an occasional truck scurrying over an unpaved road—I wasn't used to hearing a keyboard. Usually in these moments I want technology out, but instead, I felt like it all clicked.
Here was a young woman who I admire more than she knows, working long into the night to better serve our patients—having left a comfortable life in Kathmandu to live year-round in an "impossible place" hours and hours from home. Tears welled in my eyes as I felt an overwhelming sense of love for her, for the work, for the sounds of the keyboard blending in with the sounds of nature falling asleep outside the window.
In that moment, I felt the energy of determination mixed with intense calm. Silence mixed with a hope. Hope—pulled together by the tapping of a laptop into the night, and a promising glow from its screen.