Alertness Really Pays

by Dr. Pran Rangan

Many years ago, a small business owner owed a large sum of money to a loan shark in a small town. The loan-shark was a very old, unattractive guy, who just happened to fancy the business owner's daughter.

The loan shark decided to offer the businessman a deal that would completely wipe out his debt. He proposed that we would only wipe out the debt if he could marry his daughter. As expected, this proposal was met with a feeling of disgust from the businessman.

Then the loan shark struck upon an idea, which might appeal to him. He said that he would place two pebbles into a bag - one white and one black. Your daughter would have to reach into the bag and pick out a pebble. If it was black, the debt would be wiped and the loan-shark would then marry her. If it was white, the debt would also be wiped but the daughter wouldn't have to marry the loan-shark.

Standing on the path strewn with pebbles in the businessman's garden, the loan shark bent over and picked up two pebbles. While he was picking them up, the daughter noticed that he had picked up two black pebbles and placed both into the bag.

He then asked the daughter to reach into the bag and pick one. The daughter naturally had three choices as to what she could have done either refuse to pick a pebble from the bag or take both pebbles out of the bag and expose the loan shark for cheating or pick a pebble from the bag fully well knowing it was black and sacrifice herself for her father's freedom.

She took out a pebble from the bag and before looking at it deliberately dropped it into the midst of the other pebbles.

She said to the loan shark: "Oh, how clumsy I am! Never mind, if you look into the bag for the one that is left, you will be able to tell which pebble I picked."

The pebble left in the bag was obviously black. As the loan shark didn't want to be exposed, he had to play along as if the pebble the daughter dropped was white. And he had to clear her father's debt.

The moral of the story is that we can overcome a tough situation if we handle it alertness.

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