Death House of Sago Lane Where The Very Sick & Very Old Await Death To Relieve Their Pain & Suffering
My Cousin Emerged From The Sago Lane Death House Alive
One of my cousins who lived upstairs of our shop, Chop Wah On at No. 67, Pagoda Street, used to be called by his Cantonese nickname, Xu Zai （薯仔） or “Small Sweet Potato” . It was certainly not a very complimentary name. In Cantonese, a death or a funeral was often refered to euphemistically as a “Fan Shu” or “蕃薯“ the Cantonese name for sweet potato. 。 How did he get such a nickname ? Here’s the story:
When he was younger, Lau Heng Chuen once fell critically sick. In fact he was near death. His parents thought he would not survive. At that time, most people in Singapore, especially the Chinese community, were very afraid to be admitted into General Hospital even though it was certainly a better place for treatment. . Instead his parents decided to send him to one of the Death Houses at Sago Lane. It was the place where many near-death Chinese would go to while they wait for death to end their suffering. This was because of the belief that to die in one’s own home would bring bad luck to the family. So, Heng Chuen was sent to a death-house in Sago Lane to await his death.
Miraculously, he survived his ordeal in the Death House. From then on, he grew up strong and healthy. Even then, the nickname, Xu Zai stuck with him into adulthood.