English novelist and playwright Somerset Maugham once said: “Dying is a very dull, dreary affair. And my advice to you is to have nothing whatever to do with it.”In a way, Mister Maugham’s advice has become my mantra when having to deal with those pesky funeral policy call-centre operators that always call when you are
Admittedly, my view of death, its massive commercial and marketing potential, and the sheer ludicrous drama of funerals started way before Clientele, Old Mutual and Outsurance started cashing in on it.
It all began when I attended my first funeral at the age of 10 after my mom’s brother drank himself to death. He was an abusive and foul-mouthed womaniser – yet no one at his funeral mentioned this.
But the one thing all his mourning “friends” did from the day he died till they dropped his body into the ground was get drunk as skunks and make our living room, and then the church, stink like a township tavern. I was furious and disappointed. Why were they telling lies
about what a nice guy he was? This was the same monster that tore up my first edition reprinted copy of Superman, which would have been worth a small fortune today.
From that day, I realised that death and funerals attract some false people who will say and do anything for a free drink and meal. And then they will complain about how there was not enough lamb or chicken in the biryani, or how the Oros juice was weak.
The upside to dying, however, is that you won’t have to witness the mockery your guests make of your death. So, recently, when one of those ever-persistent Clientele funeral policy sellers asked me: “Wouldn’t you like to know that your burial is taken care of when you die?” My response was: “I don’t care because I’ll be dead.” – not giving her a chance to complete her next scripted question that was heading somewhere along the lines of: “But what about the people you leave behind?”
I laughed, hung up and took comfort in the words of Spartan King Leonidas from Frank Miller’s movie 300: “Give them nothing but take from them everything!”
Of course, I have, as should everyone, a couple of policies set aside for the small number of people I actually know will take care of my stiff, embalming fluid-filled corpse the private manner I would want. But as far as false mourners seeking free booze and a meal … keep checking the obituaries.