Death of a Guru
A Robert Champion Novel
by Reynold Akison
The ringing in my ears yanked me out of sleep. I felt around on the nightstand in my hotel room for the telephone and knocked the handset to the floor. I groped along the floor in the darkness until I found the handset again. I pressed the talk button and the ringing finally stopped.
“Sorry to bother you, Mr. Champion,” said a female voice. “But the caller said it was an emergency.”
The digital clock alarm beside the phone displayed 3:04 AM in bright red numbers and letters.
“Who’s calling?” I asked.
“Kazi Dawa’s wife. She said she knows you.”
“Just a moment,” I said.
I turned on the bedside light and reached for my red plaid flannel bathrobe. I pulled on the robe, took a deep breath and picked up the handset again.
“Put her through,” I said.
The sound of Katharine’s voice brought the past rushing back. Fifteen years ago we had said goodbye in Los Angeles the night she had boarded a plane at LAX and flown to India to make the movie “The Jewel.” Neither of us had known that India would change our lives forever.
“Robbie, are you there?”
“Is something wrong, Katharine?”
Her voice was close to hysteria.
“Kazi,” she said. “He’s lying at the bottom of the stairway.”
Katharine had met Kazi Dawa Sunin on the set of The Jewel in Northern India. He had been hired as an advisor. He had made an instant and deep impression on Katharine. My theory was that something about him reminded her of her recently deceased and much-loved father.
“Are you sure he’s dead?” I asked.
“He’s not breathing.”
She began to sob.
“He’s just lying there all twisted up and bloody.”
“Katharine, listen to me,” I said. “What do you want me to do?”
“Please come over now. I need you.”
Katharine had fallen in love with Kazi Dawa Sunin, and they had gotten married at the end of filming in India. According to his biography, even before he met and married Katharine, Kazi Dawa had been preparing to follow his spiritual destiny to the United States.
“Isn’t there anyone there who can help you?” I asked.
“I can’t trust anyone,” she said, her voice dropping to a whisper. “Except Sandra and she’s not here.”
I had spent the last fifteen years denying that Katharine had meant anything to me, or that we had meant anything to each other. Eventually I had learned to live with that lie. But now the wounded sound in her voice like some invisible hand reached inside me, grabbed my heart and wrung it.
“Can you tell me what happened?” I asked.
“Something woke me up. I got up and found a note under my door that frightened me. I went looking for Kazi, and that’s when I saw him lying there.”
“Tell me what the note said.”
“I can’t tell you over the phone,” she whispered. “They might be listening.”
“Do you think it has anything to do with your husband’s death?”
“I don’t know,” she said. “I’m scared, Robbie. I called you because I knew you were coming to see him tomorrow.”
“I think you’d better call the police,” I said.
“You don’t understand,” she said. “We can’t call the police.”