Scene -1: the place gardens

(Akbar and some of his courtiers are looking at the roses)

Akbar- where’s Birbal? I have no t seen him since this morning.

First Lord- we too have not seen him, Badshah Salamat. The messengers came back saying he had gone out- very busy counting crows (smiling).

Akbar- (also smiling) well, so he has taken the challenge seriously. Do none of you wish to complete for the prize?

Second Lord- we are beaten, sir. What you set was an impossible task. We tried and gave it up!

Raja Mansingh- did you really expect an answer Highness, or was it a joke?

Akbar- Mansingh, wait and see. We have set seven o’ clock as the deadline. There is at least an hour left. 3000 gold coins and a bag of precious jewels are not to be sneezed at! I am sure thousands of people in the capital are out counting the crows! (Trying to hide his laughter)

After an hour

Akbar- (re-entering garden) the time is up. How many want to win the prize. Open the gate and let us see how many have their answer ready!

First Lord- there is no one outside the gates, Badshah Salamat.

Akbar- there is no one? Not even one person has taken up the challenge? I am disappointed!

Second Lord- waits Sir! Someone is hurrying in. why it’s Birbal!

Akbar- Ho! Ha, (Delighted) welcome to you Birbal. (Smiling) I guess you too have no answer! Was the prize too small to tempt you?

Birbal- salamat –a challenge is a challenge. The amount of the prize does not matter. And I have the exact answer. The numbering of crows in the capital at 6 o’ clock today are 21,412 exactly! (With a flourish)

Akbar – (stunned ant really believing him) shall we check?

Birbal- certainly Badshah Salamat! (Pretending to be very serious) of course some crows may have left the city to visit their relatives in another town. But then it is also likely some others may have flown in for the week the last count, at 6 o’ clock exactly, there were 21412 crows exactly!

Akbar- (laughing as he does at all Birbal’s clever answers) Birbal you are the life of this court. Bring the prize!

Scene -2; a room in the palace

(Some days later)

(Akbar and his Begum Sahiba are eating mangoes. Birbal, two other Lords and there or four servants are also in the room. Birbal is sitting closest to Akbar. One servant is fanning the queen, another is fanning Akbar.)

Akbar- Birbal, will you not join us? The mangoes are really sweet.

Birbal- Sir, they are from Lucknow, Specially sent for you. I find pleasure in seeing you enjoy them!

Akbar- as usual, you know how to turn a refusal into a compliment!

(Suddenly in a playful mood, Akbar pushed all the skins and seeds of the mangoes he has eaten onto the queen’s plate while she is not looking. He wants to tease her and have some fun!)

Akbar- begum, it seems that you were starving for mangoes (pointing to her plate). That pile shows how many mangoes you ate. What do you say Birbal?

The queen- (startled at seeing the plate heaped with skins and seeds) oh! (Her hand files to her lips and she looks appealingly at Birbal or help.)

Birbal- Badshah salamat, I think it was you who were starving for mangoes. While the begum Sahiba enjoyed the pulp and the juice Sir, you have swallowed the skins and seeds as well!

Akbar- (laughing at Birbal’s clever answers, as usual) for that I will send you a basketful of Lucknavi mangoes!

(Birbal bows in thanks)



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