Wall Graffiti

A casual walk around the city, with a flirting glance at the walls around and the designs that adorn them will tell you volumes about a very subtle story in our society. I do not know what pleasure exists in seeing a virgin wall and unleashing one’s creativity on it but it definitely presents a very interesting picture to study. Usually they are either overlooked or ignored completely. I, however, see a society at loss in those wall graffiti with a youth that has forgot to differentiate between expression and responsible expression.


The first of the designs that come on the wall are the red spits of some road romeo for whom the pleasure of having a pan lies in the amount of spit that he can generate in the process and use the same on an unfortunate wall, specially the one with a ‘NO SPITTING’ board on it. The nature of this art is usually random and there is no distinct pattern to be observed but it is practiced rampantly through out the country with the pros taking a great effort in teaching the amateurs the perfection in the art – how much to spit, and when and where.


Once the background color is in place, literature takes over. The wall now gets covered with couplets, love proposals, erotic thoughts, phone numbers of girls, and various other details of the female anatomy, occasionally elucidated by graphic diagrams for the viewer’s pleasure. The wall now serves as an index of all one sided love stories in the society and also a vent for letting off the frustrations of the sex starved youth in the society. Most people do not seem to approve of them but they do have an occasional look at them as if to make sure that no one in their family has featured on the walls yet.


Virginity lost, the wall is now covered with adult movie posters; girls in skimpy clothes and supernaturally chiseled bodies compete for the passing male attention from the confines of these posters. I do not know where they come from; but layer on layer they keep on getting added every week. And to look discreetly at them is an art to master – the look comes from the corner of the eye devouring as much of the image as possible but without letting anyone know what you are looking at.


Slowly but surely the wall degenerates into the crudest and most explicit form of expression that mocks at the civilized societies that we live in. The situation gets worse when these wall graffiti appear on school boundaries or in children’s parks where they are exposed to the young minds of the society. Forget the general walls around the city, even places of historical importance and sites of heritage are not unknown to these kinds of graffiti. In fact, these days they are everywhere. Railway stations, public toilets, theatres and on the back of the seats on the local buses – nothing escapes them. And worse, we have done nothing about it over the years except condemning them over tea in the local tea stalls over casual discussions.


Expression is a liberty that every individual must enjoy. However it is also necessary that we ensure that this liberty does not degenerate into license. And if it does, adequate measures have to be taken by the society as a whole to ensure that some lines of limit are drawn. It is precisely then, we can differentiate between a collection of families living together and a society.


The disrespect towards anything that is in order is an admirable quality in the youth. For ages, it is this quality that has brought positive changes to the society that we live in. But utter disrespect towards any order leads to anarchy. The youth must be allowed to do what they fancy. Only then, we evolve as a society. But the youth must know where fancy ends and temptation gets in. And if some of them do not, it is necessary that those who do show the way – forget the taboo associated with these walls, protect them, get them cleaned and if necessary fight for them. It is necessary that the society starts looking straight at these walls for a possible change to happen rather than looking at them from the corner of an eye deriving a sadistic pleasure from them.


And somewhere deep down, we need to understand that we do not want just the spirit of the youth to take over our society. We want the spirit of a responsible youth to take over our society.


Shreetam Subhrankar

[Image source:http://oglobo.globo.com/blogs/arquivos_upload/2008/04/229_1442-alt-wall.jpg]