I had a message from my funeral advisor last week. No, that’s wrong. I discovered it wasn’t "my" funeral advisor, it was "a" funeral advisor. But the questions that originally rushed into my mind remained the same. Is this a representative on earth of the appropriate authority above? Why is he advising me funerally? Is there a hint in there somewhere? How do I address him – sir, madam, or ‘Oh god?’ And how did sir/madam, etc., get my email address?

In a fit of annoyance, I deleted the message, but when you get an email like that, the underlying message always remains with you. I wasn’t even aware that there were funeral advisors in this world. Or the next. But I can’t speak with authority about that since the advisor on this side is bound to get across to the other at some point.

Perhaps the FA (funeral advisor) had nothing to say, and was merely wishing me, a random person, a happy new year. Perhaps the FA (funeral advisor) had heard some news relevant to me and was passing it on. Perhaps he was trying to sell me something. But to imagine an FA, whom I visualise as a serious man in a beard with unsmiling eyes and a mouth that confirms his lack of humour, as a common garden-variety salesman whose messages find their natural home in the trash can is somehow difficult. But I could be dead wrong.

It is disconcerting when a total stranger appears to know more about you than you do yourself. Or perhaps this wasn’t a display of knowledge so much as a display of desperation in these Covid times. Maybe the FA has worked out that there is money in the morbidity business, and he might as well gain the first-mover advantage.

I wish now I hadn’t deleted the message like I delete those from insurance agents, people asking for money and those who are Princes in their own country and need just a few hundred thousand dollars of mine so they can access their funds from my country. I would have liked to start a conversation with him. Did you always want to be a funeral advisor from the time you were a child? What university courses did you attend in pursuit of your dream? What did your parents think about your ambition?

I didn’t get a message from a birth advisor when I was born, or a maturity advisor when I matured or a marriage advisor when I married. So this message was probably special. Too bad I won’t know what it was. At the very least I might have got an idea for a column out of it.

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