A good number of us might remember getting something in our possession confiscated in school, never to see it again.
Here's a story which bucks that trend.
Digivice confiscated in 1999
Lai Wai Kit was a Secondary 2 student at The Chinese High School in 1999.
The school has now merged with the then-Hwa Chong Junior College to form Hwa Chong Institution (HCI).
Speaking to Mothership, he recalls being a bit of a troublemaker, wearing baggy pants, colouring his hair, and wearing "funky shoes".
Basically, he was doing everything that would have garnered the attention of discipline master and his then-geography teacher, Jeffrey Lim.
To add to his list of misdemeanours, he played with his dark-blue Digivice in class.
For the uninitiated, the portable electronic gaming device is a bit like a Tamagotchi; you raise a digital monster, or Digimon, which evolves (or rather, digivolves) over time.
Here it is:
Lai recalls that one needed to feed or clean up his Digimon's poop from time to time, which led to him playing with it in class.
Discipline master Lim happened to walk by his class, which resulted in Lai being caught in the act.
The Digivice was promptly confiscated.
Lai didn't attempt to convince his discipline master to return it, knowing that Lim wasn't the kind to give concessions when there were clear rules already in place.
It was a lesson in itself.
Lai remembers painstakingly saving 50 cents a day for nearly a month just to purchase the Digivice.
That, along with the effort it took to raise and train the Digimon made the confiscation "quite painful".
Discipline master reached out
That was the last time Lai would see his Digivice...or so he thought.
On Nov. 19, 2020, HCI announced on Facebook that Lim, who's still teaching at HCI as an English lecturer, was retiring.That was when Lai, half-jokingly, commented that his Digivice (which he had mistakenly labelled as a Tamagotchi) was still lying in Lim's drawer of confiscated items, slightly more than 20 years later.
Of course, Lai also added a note of gratitude, thanking Lim for his life lessons that he imparted to Lai.
Despite it being a joke, Lim would actually reach out to Lai via Facebook Messenger regarding the Digivice.
To both their surprise, the Digivice was still in the discipline master's possession, despite Lim having shifted cubicles a few times over the years.
While Lim originally offered to mail it to Lai, Lai wanted to meet his former discipline master in person, and arranged to meet up with Lim on Nov. 26.
They took a few photos together too, one which includes Lai being, uh, "awarded" back his Digivice:
Lai quipped that it was either Lim's great memory or his own reputation as a notorious student that lead to Lim recognising him.
It was probably the former; Lai learnt that the discipline master keeps a record of students, complete with photos and notes about them.
These were all painstakingly printed out and noted down manually, with some of these records dating all the way back to the 1980s.
Understands where Lim comes from
The reunion was a good opportunity for Lai to reflect on the importance of Lim's impact on him as an educator.
As a father of three young kids, with one attending primary school next year, Lai hopes his children will be able to meet educators like Lim as well.
The formerly rebellious student can also better understand where Lim came from, and his firm and fair guidance.
"It is said that the best teachers are those who show you where to look but don't tell you what to see. I guess the best discipline masters are those who tell me where NOT to go, so I know what I can be", Lai said in a Facebook post, detailing the unexpected reunion.
Perhaps the most important question on everyone's mind is this: Is the Digivice still working?
Lai shares that he hasn't actually tried, but we'll update this article if it, by some miracle, manages to start up.
Meanwhile, you can see his Facebook post here:We deliver more stories to you on LinkedIn
Top image courtesy of Lai Wai Kit