Mainly writing on the issue of woman existence, as an author, Meltem Arıkan traces a unique path on her career all the way through. Her novel, Stop Hurting My Flesh, which discusses ‘incest’, was banned in early 2004, but was released after the judicial procedure and then brought her “The Freedom of Thought and Expression Award” in the same year. She always has a large fan base but on the other side there are also people who bluster her just because they are disturbed by her struggle against honor crimes and sexual abuse.
06.09.2009 | Hürriyet Sunday, Faruk Bildirici
My first questioning: Do pigeons bring bad luck?
My homeland was not my childhood but my womanhood journey. The memories of my early years are full of grief. When I was five, we had gone for a short weekend trip with my parent’s friends. Just before we started to get back home, my mother had told me that having pigeons in the car would bring bad luck. Still, on the way home the children of the other family wanted to by some pigeons and did so.. A while later, we had a terrible car accident. Since there weren’t any ambulances available, they took us to the hospital at the back of a truck. I could never forgot Mummy’s groans and Daddy words: “Everything will be okay”. On the way to the hospital I struggled with lots of questions in my head like “Did we have an accident because of the pigeons?”, “Is God punishing us now?”, “Why does God give punishments?” “If God punishes us then why should I love him?” “Will my Mummy and Daddy die?”. My parents stayed in the hospital for a very long time and then I lost my mother. When she passed away, inquiry and insurrection had already been intertwined in my thoughts.
The spirit of 68: Born at the age of rebellion
A real member of 68-generation is me. Perhaps just because I was born at an age of rebellion, my childhood and teenage years all went by with rebel. They keep telling me that my first game was to pretend that I was a hippie. I would sit on the pavement, holding my chin in my hands and wait till I heard the whistle of my father, which made me scream and run, pretending it was the whistle of the policemen.
The birth of my son: The turning point of my life
The biggest turning point of my life was the first 24 hours after my son Ege was born which carried a mortality risk for him and the few months after that. Not because I had become a mother or going through a postnatal depression. What I went through and witnessed in those days had become the originating point of my many decisions in life.
My next book: This time “Snakes”
In my previous book, The Tempest of Yearning, dolphins cover a special place. While I was writing the book, I had swam with the dolphins in order to get more familiar with them. My new book will cover snakes. The context of my new book was formed just after I did put a cobra around my neck and spend some time with it. Nowadays, I am making plans in order to spend more time with snakes and get to know them better. For me, getting to know another living creature is not achieved by reading books or watching documentary but by being able to be with them and with all my five senses, in the same environment.
My definition of life: Life is like the Thai cuisine.
For me, life is like the Thai cuisine. Offering you various kinds of tastes and giving pleasure even if the taste you feel is hot. It is a kind of cuisine that combines things you wouldn’t imagine was possible to combine. Here you can choose to cook or to eat; or you can live just by drinking water.
My obsessions: I do not use perfume or deodorant
One obsession of mine is to have lots of candles in my home. I must have spare candles in order to light any. If I like an outfit a lot, I buy two of them, just in case something shall happen to one. I smoke. I do not use perfume or deodorants for I believe that the best aphrodisiac is the natural scent of the skin.
My mission as an author: My problem is women’s existence problems.
My attempt for being an author stems from the concern of expressing myself throughout my own womanhood existence processes. Is it one thing to think about human existence and another thing to do so for women existence? The ones, who chew on human issues cannot realize that there is no way for men to exist as men, without women existing as women. And thus, they are condemned to be cramped in the ideologies of the previous century as long as the situation is as such. I am not concerned with “human existence” but particularly with women and therefore men existences separately. My priority is naturally women existence for I am a woman. Those men who are extensively concerned with human existence, should be courageous enough to look at their own menhood existence first.
My role model: I used to want a piece from everyone.
There was not one single person that I had chosen as a role model but when I was a kid I would dream to be as beautiful as one of our relatives, Mücella; to be an artist like my uncle in law, Tunç Tanışık; to be a folk dancer who visits Europe frequently like my aunt, Figen and to be a good lecturer and polemicist as my father. I wished to be educated on drama but instead attended to Hacettepe University, Department of Office Management, based on my father’s choice.
Writing: Destroyed all my journals
I met with books during the period when both my parents were in two different hospitals after the accident. I started to write a journal because the questions I kept asking were not making any sense to my peers. Then I wrote long letters to my father during my teen age years. It wasn’t easy to speak with my father because all our conversations would end the way he wished them to. For a long period of time, I communicated with my father through exchanging letters in the same house. I continued to keep a journal until I gave birth to my son. I started to keep a notebook for Ege when I got pregnant. What motivated me for writing was to be able to understand and express what I feel inside without being subject to any censory. I never had let anyone read my journals and have destroyed them all, a few years ago. Those journals were my account books; and when those accounts were closed I made them invisible. Body Language: Nobody knows his/her own body. I am giving training courses, seminars and do research on effective communication and body language. People, both women and men, do not know their own bodies. Women think that their bodies and sexual organs are seperate from each other. And men think that they have only sexual organs. Both of the genders believe that they can access everything by using readymade formulas. Everybody likes complaining on and blaming others. It’s a pity that nobody can look at himself/herself when completely naked. And instead of taking the responsibility of their lives, they put it on others’ shoulders simply because it suits their way.
My personality: Stubborn and sensitive
I have a stubborn, joyful and sensitive personality. I have the memory of an elephant. I hardly get angry but when I do, I lose my temper easily. I am shrewish based on the fact that I cannot live my existence as I should. I am even more so nowadays since I am writing a new book.