Scene 1

(Two citizens meet in the kingdom of King Harabhanga.)

FIRST CITIZEN: Unbearable, unbearable! The King is unbearable.

SECOND CITIZEN: Unpardonable, unpardonable! The King is unpardonable.

FIRST CITIZEN: He has gone crazy!

SECOND CITIZEN: He has become insane!

FIRST CITIZEN: Look at that fool! He wants his kingdom to surpass Heaven in prosperity, beauty and divinity.

SECOND CITIZEN: Look at his audacity! You say stupidity; I say stupidity plus audacity! How can his kingdom surpass Heaven?

FIRST CITIZEN: Impossible!


FIRST CITIZEN: He has created absolute chaos in the whole kingdom. He says that everybody has to be equal, and he feels that the only way to bring this about is for everything in the market to be sold at the same price!

SECOND CITIZEN: Unthinkable! Unthinkable! How can gold and rice be sold at the same price? A seer of gold and a seer of rice! Ha! Ha! What a stupid king we have! There are things on earth which are extremely rare and there are things on earth which are extremely common. How can they be given the same price? Look at the stupidity of this king! He feels that this will make his kingdom most prosperous, and that all will become friends. Ha! Just wait and see what unimaginable things will soon happen.

FIRST CITIZEN: Well, when one loses one’s brains, one does all sorts of things. The king thinks we will lead a perfectly happy life if the price of everything is equal. He is a fool, a real fool. What is worse, he is adamant in his command and we are helpless.

SECOND CITIZEN: We are helpless, true, but I abominate him — his utterance, his decree, everything he does.

FIRST CITIZEN: My friend, you hate him, and I wish to say that his very name has become anathema to me. He is despised and he will ever be despised by his entire kingdom. I am a jeweller. From now on I have to sell all my most expensive jewellery at the price of eggplants, potatoes and tomatoes.

SECOND CITIZEN: No matter, friend, how many aspersions you cast on him, you cannot change his mind. This is our fate.

FIRST CITIZEN: Fate? I don’t believe in fate. I shall abrogate my fate! You will see. A day will come when Harabhanga will realise his folly and this kingdom of ours, this beautiful country, will again have real life — a life of love, a life of harmony. Once more only the right will deserve the fair. A man of knowledge will have prestige; a man of ignorance will have to work for knowledge and only then will he get prestige. People will work hard in order to achieve something and only those who deserve it will get appreciation. Two different things cannot be of the same value. A man of ignorance and a man of knowledge cannot be put on the same footing. A man of sincerity and a man of insincerity, a thief and a saint, cannot be considered equal. Just by having all eat the same food, just by selling everything at the same price, this stupid Harabhanga cannot equalise all his subjects. Impossible! His brain has reached the zenith of stupidity.

SECOND CITIZEN: And I tell you, the lion in me will not eat grass like the sheep who are the king’s ministers. The king’s ministers have no voice of their own. It is they who have agreed to the king’s proposal. I am a lion; I shall devour the king and his sheep!