A buzzer unlocked the front door of a lime green two-story building that housed Dr. Sebi’s Office, LLC on the lower level. A slender attractive woman with a short gray Afro appeared from behind curtains of a back office. She managed Dr. Sebi’s company and called herself Matun (MA-TUNE). Her height appeared to be five feet four or five and she wore a sleeveless black A-line dress that looked more cocktail than office attire.
I found her quiet and a bit distant as she walked over to the glass showcase of herbal products.
“I’m here to pick up some Eva Salve,” I said, somewhat anxious to get pass the sale and onto a visit with Dr. Sebi. “Is Dr. Sebi here?”
Her steady eyes met mine and she said, “He’s not here at the moment.”
I suspected curious spectators mingled with the sincere in Dr. Sebi’s line of business so I quickly introduced myself not only as a longtime patron of Dr. Sebi’s products, but as someone who interviewed him years ago. That broke the ice.
With her Caribbean accent she told me Dr. Sebi was living in Honduras, Central America. She asked for my phone number and said she would pass it and my greetings to Dr. Sebi. I accepted that and decided not to take up a lot of her time with the thrill of my presence in Dr. Sebi’s space. Before I left with the salve I looked around, and in the browse, I faced a three foot by four foot painting on an easel. I viewed a pensive man with short white hair and white goatee—a fitting impression of an elder Dr. Sebi.
Nearly three weeks went by. Then out of the blue, when the thrill of occupying his space passed, a voice on the other end of my cell phone said, “Beverly, this is Sebi.” Was it Dr. Sebi? It sounded like him. I was almost sure it was. We never talked on the phone in the past because appointments and phone calls were handled by his assistants.
“How are you?” I asked.
“Not as good as you.”
Yes, it was him, calling from Los Angeles. And just as I charged to his company to pick up the salve, I rushed back, this time, to his suite on the upper level of his building.
Matun greeted me again and led me upstairs to Dr. Sebi. The sun poured through a skylight to light the whole top floor, including a small foyer furnished with large thick floor pillows and two chairs. He welcomed me there, tall, upright, just as he stood twenty years earlier in Washington, D.C. His voice the same as well, devoid of any sign of aging. His lifestyle, for the most part unchanged, differed in a minor way to him, in a significant way to me—he retired from healing and counseling.
I went to visit him in peace but instead I received an unexpected jolt. Few lectures. No more client consultations. Who on earth, I asked, will pick up the torch and carry on a much needed business?
“My daughter Xave is running the business,” he announced proud and emphatic. “She can mix herbs ten times better than me.”
My joy evaporated into the herbal air. I felt I’d lost a trusted doctor when he announced his retirement. He assured me his company remained in reliable hands. “That salve you bought? Xave made that batch.”
I wanted him to leave something behind besides a company that bore his name. I asked him why he hadn’t written a book, a nightstand reference we could all turn to in his absence. Within seconds of asking the question, he pulled out a manuscript of 140 pages—his life story. He called it The Cure: The Autobiography of Dr. Sebi “Mama Hay” and shared it with me in a review copy. I read it and learned things about him that never surfaced twenty years before. He travelled the seas as a young merchant seaman before settling in North America; Martin Luther King, Jr. Hospital employee Alfredo Bowman, steam engineer, becomes Dr. Sebi the herbalist and treats more than a few celebrated personalities. When I offered editorial suggestions for his book, he offered me a plane ticket to his native home, Honduras.
OTHER CHAPTER & SECTION TITLES
Herbalist Emeritus in Honduras; The Healer Makes A Case for the Natural;
Starch: It Gels, Swells, It Glues; They Know I Cure AIDS