Volume 33, Number 3

The First Lie

Vishal Suchak

Her screams shatter the skies as the walls of her vagina strain against the final assault.

Drawn in by the spectacle, a gaggle of mothers, maids and girls have gathered around. Their eyes
fixed on the screaming woman’s tear-stained face as it contorts in pain.

Grey clouds drizzle gentle solace over the screaming woman and the onlookers from above.

The older women amongst the onlookers, having been through this themselves, watch in knowing silence. The eldest of the lot—a wizened grey-haired one—offers succor to the screaming woman with encouraging nods and the occasional cluck.

Encouraged yet still in pain, the screaming woman draws in one deep breath after another. Screaming, then breathing in again.

The youngest women and daughters in the gaggle of mothers, maids and girls; the ones yet to menstruate stand with their eyes agape. Witnessing bloodstained flesh emerge from between the screaming woman’s thighs, they shudder at this vision of a future that awaits them. Understanding the meaning and price of motherhood without resorting to words.

As the screaming of the woman—now a mother—finally subsides, the wailing of her newborn takes its place.

“The man who will be the father someday,” a man who used to be a boy not too long ago, starts hooting and screaming as he beats his chest. His primal celebration echoing the primal scream of the infant.

“The man who will be the father someday” keeps his distance from the gaggle of mothers, maids and girls despite his celebration. He knows well, from past experiences, how protective “the father” is of the harem.

He has also come to realize the significance of such times without resorting to words. “The man who will be the father someday” knows he will either get a tender and succulent meal soon. Or “the father’s” harem—that gaggle of mothers, maids, girls and the screaming woman—will increase by one.

Roused by the primal cacophony, “the father” who had nodded off below the dense foliage of his own tree not too far from his harem wakes from slumber. Opening his eyes, he swallows the saliva gushing about in his mouth, his vision still clearing. Gone are the days when he would feel his manhood harden at such times—he doesn’t need further testament to his advancing age. He knows what will become of him sooner or later because he too was a young man once. He too was once “the man who will be the father someday” before violently taking the place of the man who was “the father” then. He knows he will be challenged someday, and one of those challenges will end with his demise. And so he rises to full length in one swift motion with a roar that is as deafening as it is chilling. The forest and all the creatures within, seemingly chastened, come to a standstill. Having learned to breathe, the newborn infant remains as silent as the gentle drizzle.

Lightning crackles through the cloudy sky. Thunder rumbles soon after.

Casting a sideways glance at “the man who will be the father someday” with a mean snarl, “the father” advances towards his harem taking one menacing step after another. The younger man snarls back with defiance at first. Then rubbing the scars “the father” had given him, becomes even more voluble with angry screeches and derisive hoots.

The older women in “the father’s” harem, taking but one glance at the infant’s genitals, begin herding the younger ones away. The wizened grey-haired woman, having offered succor to the woman in labor, now proceeds to her next task—wiping the newborn clean.

Exhausted from childbirth, the screaming woman—now a mother—lies motionless on the ground. The sight of her infant being prepared for “the father” as he approaches; watching him lick his lips with a grotesque smile on his face, she is overpowered by destitute helplessness.

Turning away, her eyes settle on “the man who will be the father someday”—the man who keeps his distance from the harem but sometimes gets into skirmishes with “the father.” She wonders why "the father" let him live. She was a girl herself when he was born. Searching through her faded memories proves fruitless. A second wave of tears trickles down her cheeks.

She remembers the many childbirths ever since. She remembers them well enough to know that when males were born, the wizened grey-haired woman would clean the infants and hand them over to “the father.” She knows “the father” will make a tender and succulent meal out of her child. And as “the man who will be the father someday” grows stronger, he too will get his share.

Watching the wizened grey-haired woman hand her child to “the father” she sits up, one hand extended towards her child, and continues sobbing. The sight of “the father” grabbing her child by its ankles and raising it above his head in triumph; the wails of her child in response to this callous handling are all too much to bear. Shrieking in horror, she casts a beseeching look at the wizened grey-haired woman at first and at the older women in the harem next. Pleading with her eyes, one mother to another, one after the other.

Meanwhile “the father” looks towards “the man who will be the father someday” with a savage laugh and points at the bawling infant’s phallus. Grabbing his own manhood by way of instruction, he points at the infant’s phallus once again. To ensure the lesson isn’t lost on his heir and successor, “the father” grabs his manhood once again, giving it a vigorous rub.

“The man who will be the father someday” sniggers back, still careful not to stray from his territory. Yet overcome by the testosterone coursing through his adolescent veins, he grabs his own manhood in response and begins pleasuring himself.

Watching “the father” and “the man who will be the father someday” find common ground over her newborn soon to become a meal breaks the spirit of the mother. With a newborn resolve supplanting her broken spirit, she lunges towards “the father” dislodging the infant from his grasp. Holding her infant close to her bosom, her heart pounding, she hears a defiant growl emanate from within.

“The father” unleashes another deafening, chilling roar in response. He knows he must once again remind the forest and all the creatures within of his strength. That the challenge presenting itself to his authority comes from one so weak and vulnerable fills him with perverse pleasure. A sadistic smile paints itself across his face.

Still clutching her child, still screaming helpless rage, the mother starts retreating from “the father.” She takes one backward step after another, still facing him. Unknowingly backing towards a tree.

“The father” follows, now laughing at her brave but ultimately futile gesture. He pauses each time he gets too close to the mother and child, giving the screaming woman time to retreat even further, even closer to the tree. He draws this demonstration out for as long as he can, casting glances at the mothers, maids and girls in his harem. And at “the man who will be the father someday” as well, for this is a lesson he is glad to teach them all.

The intensifying of the drizzle into a downpour, the darkening of the skies, and the thud of the mother’s back hitting the tree she has unknowingly backed into come about all at once.

A serpent who had made this particular tree its home, its habitat disturbed, slithers out to investigate. Coming into the view of “the father,” the serpent emerges on a branch above the screaming woman. Presented by this danger to himself, to a member of his harem and to the succulent meal in her arms, “the father” feels remorse. Taking this feeling he isn’t accustomed to for weakness, “the father” readies himself for a struggle greater than he had accounted for. The smile on his face remains but grows grim.

Just then, a bolt of lightning shoots down from the skies striking the tree with the mother and child below, setting it ablaze.

“The father,” his harem and his heir have all had their brushes with fire before. They know their only defense against the raging flames is a quick escape. Leaping backward, “the father” retreats from the burning tree, yet holds his ground at a safe distance. His harem and “the man who will be the father someday” remain glued in their own places, held back by curiosity.

Picking up the first branch to be felled by the flames, a branch with its foliage still burning, the mother starts brandishing it about. Forcing “the father” even further afar, she steps away from the tree herself.

The forest, moistened by the day-long drizzle, doesn’t take to the fire. Soon enough, the flames on the tree struck by lightning begin dying. The flames on the burning branch brandished by the mother as well. She shakes that branch in her hand in desperation and the snake, its roasted carcass which she hadn’t even noticed before, falls to the ground. A tantalizing aroma, a sensation that none had experienced before, wafts about.

The mother of the newborn, still clutching her infant with one hand and that branch in another, kicks the serpent's carcass towards “the father.”

Peering at her through eyes narrowed by suspicion “the father” remains motionless at first. Beckoned by the tantalizing aroma he settles on his haunches after a while. Poking and prodding, he examines the meat rendered tender by the flames. Then taking a bite of cooked meat, “the father” rises and walks away with the spoils.


Many years pass and the infant who was saved by his mother, the lightning and the tender succulent meal made out of the serpent, that newborn who was spared has become “the father.”

Another woman lies on the ground today, her screams shattering the skies as the walls of her vagina strain against the final assault. Drawn in by the spectacle, a newer gaggle of mothers, maids and girls have gathered around.

Another wizened grey-haired woman offers succor to the screaming woman with encouraging nods and the occasional cluck.

This grey-haired woman was a woman herself when the mother, the lightning and the serpent had saved the life of the infant who is now “the father.” That vision had engraved itself on the minds of everyone present back then. And back then, “the father” and “the man who would be father someday,” had forsaken the meals they made out of newborn males out of superstitious fear.

Aided by the increasing band of boys who were allowed to live, “the man who would be father someday” soon overthrew “the father.” He too was overthrown eventually in a similar fashion. Through the course of the infighting which followed, that infant who was saved by his mother, the lightning and the serpent emerged victorious.

None could have told that boy, now “the father” and the only man still standing, the story of his own survival for there is only so much that can be said with grunts, growls and gestures; without resorting to words.

That boy, now “the father,” stands waiting in expectation. Awaiting what will either be a tender and succulent meal or an addition to his harem.

The wizened grey-haired woman, between her encouraging nods and the occasional cluck, looks at “the father” fearing the worst. One glance at the genitals of the newborn warns her of things to come. As the older women in the harem begin herding the younger ones away, the wizened grey-haired woman knows what she must do next.

Instead of wiping the still-wailing newborn clean—by way of preparing a tender and succulent meal for “the father”—she rushes to the withered stump of that tree once struck by lighting and places the infant there.

Even as the wailing of the infant subsides, the wizened grey-haired woman begins a spectacle of her own: circumambulating around that withered stump and the infant next to it in a frenzy, turning the fear she’s fighting into cheers and hope.

And as she dances—for her joyous circumambulation around the infant and tree may be best described as such—she formulates a word.

“The father,” still standing a distance away, remains fixed. For he has never seen dancing nor has he heard a word.

The older women in the harem—those who saw and still remember the vision of the mother, the lightning and the serpent—help the mother who has just finished her struggle with childbirth to her feet.

They repeat the word. The first word they have heard just now, the first word they have known to exist, the first word which might hold sway over “the father.”

And lead the younger ones in the harem in joining the wizened grey-haired woman’s dance.