Friday, August 14, 2015

Stories Retold[2]: Common Ground.

There was a father who left 17 camels as an asset for his three sons. When the father passed away, his sons opened up the will.

Will of the father stated that the eldest son should get half of 17 camels while the middle son should be given 1/3rd (one-third). The youngest son should be given 1/9th (one-ninth) of the 17 camels.

As it is not possible to divide 17 into half or 17 by 3 or 17 by 9, three sons started to fight with each other. How can they divide their father’s inheritance?

Do you have any thoughts about how to divide 17 camels among three sons as prescribed in their father’s will?

So, three sons decided to go to a wise man.

The wise man listened patiently about the whole matter i.e. dividing 17 camels as follows:

½ to the eldest son, 1/3rd to the middle son and 1//9th to the youngest – How is it possible?

So, the wise man, after giving this thought, brought one camel of his own and added the same to 17. That increased the total to 18 camels.

Now, he started reading the deceased father’s will.

Half of 18 = 9. So he gave the eldest son 9 camels

1/3rd of 18 = 6. So he gave the middle son 6 camels

1/9th of 18 = 2. So he gave the youngest son 2 camels.

Now add this up: 9 plus 6 plus 2 is 17 and this leaves one camel, which the wise man took away.

So, the attitude of conflict resolution is to find the 18th camel i.e. the common ground. Once a person is able to find the 18th ground by using his or her intellect, the issue is resolved. It is difficult and at times, it is not easy at all. However, to reach a solution, first step is to believe that there is a solution. If we think that there is no solution, we won’t be able to reach any!

Recently I have found a source where people post nice short stories, with some moral/meaning. I have decided to make a collection and so I will keep on posting them here so that we have a common place to read them whenever we feel like. All the stories in this series Stories Retold are shamelessly copied and are not my work. Please enjoy reading them.


  1. A good story on how to think wisely when the going gets tough.
    But as someone mentioned on quora, the eldest son got 9/17 which is more than 1/2, others also got more than they were supposed to get.
    The wise man could have just rounded off the division to get the same answer :P .

    1. This is just to emphasize on the way of thinking, otherwise the initial division was wrong, the assets divided never made 100%, 1/2 + 1/3 + 1/9 = 50% + 33.33% + 11.11% = 94.44% :P :P