Meltem Arikan


Between hundreds of years-old trees

I’m searching for my past

at top of the mountains.

Within shades of greens

asking the rivers

watering the meadows.

Speaking with lotus flowers

lying on river beds

I’m touching rocks

trying to understand what is missed.

What is it to belong?

What determines belonging?

I’m hurt inside

by the wind carrying my past

I thrust my head into the clouds

confused, unable to breathe…

while galloping on top of a horse

not knowing what I’m missing.

I don’t know

I’ve never had a feeling of belonging. Maybe it’s because I spent most of my childhood in hospitals after a car accident; maybe it’s because my mother died when I was only 7, maybe it’s because I never had my own bedroom when I was living with my grandparents. Well I’ve never felt belonging… That’s why I can adapt to any circumstance at any time. Whatever the reality, it must be accepted. That’s why I have never complained. I learned to build completeness from broken fragments. Without expectations, static, distant, living more and more introverted….



I have asked myself a thousand times where do I belong? Looking at the reflection of my silent face in the mirror unable to hear the answers in my silent tears, I asked myself a thousand times at the top of the mountains, in the shadows of the trees, in the photograph of my mother, in the eyes of my father, between the sentences in novels. I asked myself a thousand times. Where do I belong? To the city I was born? To the hills I ran? To the obscurity inside my genes?



I asked myself a thousand times I couldn’t get a reply. I ripped and threw out my heart, erased my emotions. I left myself hanging in the air. The more I hanged in the air the more my relatives fail to understand me. The more I hanged in the air the more walls I build in between everything and my desire to flee. Not knowing from whom and from what I am running away, but only with the desire to shelter somewhere, anywhere. In a place where no one can reach me yet still having the desire to connect with something alive.



When you can’t find your answers with words, you learn the language of Nature. The wind, mountains, rain, land… Even the trees… and then you begin to feel less lonely. From then on you’d have another language and another reality.



I had my mountains, where I reached their peaks, where I spoke with the wind, let go of myself, searched for answers. I had my trees, where each time I climbed closer to the top of them, where I felt the wind on my cheeks, where I played tag with the clouds…



And then one day you’d understand the whispers of the wind:

“Would there be borders if there were no war?

If wars weren’t sanctified,

would people be dispersed from there to there?

it is not parents, not cultures, not languages, not DNA

that determine where the children of the children go

whose parents are forced to leave their countries

to build new lives…”



You would feel the nonexistence nurtured by men who slaughter the life given by women. When days and nights coalesce with disasters you’d realize that those nonexistent borders were drawn with blood… a lump in your throat… you’d be petrified…


Editor’s Notes: Photograph one by Jonathan Ooi; photograph two by Ghazaleh Ghazanfari; photographs three, four, five, six and seven by Vincepal; and photograph eight from the archive of Lux and Jourik.

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Previously published April 14, 2014 on News Junkie Post.


Meltem Arıkanis a Turkish novelist and playwright. Her fourth novel Yeter Tenimi Acıtmayın (Stop Hurting My Flesh) was banned in early 2004 by the Committee to Protect the Minors from Obscene Publications, with the accusation of "Writing about the non-existing incest fact in Turkey, attempting to disturb the Turkish family order with a feminist approach.” The ban was lifted after two months and Arıkan has been awarded with “Freedom of Idea and Statement Prize 2004” by the Turkish Publishers’ Association. She published her 9th novel in 2009.  Stop Hurting My Flesh was recently republished in Turkish and will be published in English in 2015.


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