Of Grids and Blobs
by Yashtika Tandon
February 5th, 2022
Artwork by Yashtika Tandon
We are united in a big irregular blob, yet divided from each other by sharp edges. These straight lines form rows and columns. And the rows and columns make tiny boxes containing us. Many tiny boxes arranged as rows and columns come together to make what we call a grid. Each of us live in those tiny boxes, often oblivious to the grid. We tightly hold within ourselves––our expressive, wild selves––like animals restricted. Why do we cage ourselves? What stops us from tearing and eating up the walls?
Is the grid a place of comfort or respite? Or is it in fact the cage it looks like? Do we feel united in our blind obedience to this grid? Do we use it as our collective guide? What are they guiding us to? Why can’t we see the lines, the divisions? Do we blind ourselves for comfort? Do we find comfort in knowing that we are alike sharing the lengths and breadths? We are never ourselves, never wild. None of us want to be bigger or smaller, thinner or wider according to the grid. Because that would make one of us stand-out, we call that different, out-of-line. Are we scared of being different, being seen, either as an aberration or defection?
Being visible indicates emphasis. Emphasis subjects us to scrutiny. Does being scrutinized scare us? Or is it being seen for who we are or who we project to be that terrifies us? Being different is glorified, is powerful. Being too different is risking being exiled, being rejected. Who defines the ‘too’? How does one quantify difference? To quantify difference we must have a clear idea of what is the norm, the average, the medium. Can the average keep changing? Can boxes sometimes be tall, sometimes wide, short or large? Can the grid be in constant motion? Can it be the one that rules all, the one that everyone wants to be like, how and what then becomes the new average?
A big box pushes, asserts or exploits. It takes the space meant for other boxes.
Does this box feel proud or ashamed? Does this box hope to become small again, find comfort in complacency among the others? What do you get when you are bigger? Is it attention? Is it repulsion? Is it isolation? Is it to be able to express oneself? Self-expression is wild. It can tear up the lines, eat up the walls. Then, is the bigger box just an attention seeker? The one which seeks attention is courageous, unafraid of emphasis. The big box is wild, even though in a grid, safe and seemingly protected.
Do we form lines even though we don’t want to? Do grids unite us? Can’t we just be one amorphous blob?
But nothing is constant, so the big box becomes small again. And another box becomes big, then another. If all the boxes are meant to be small and uniform, why do they grow? Do the smaller boxes remember the bigger boxes? Or do they remember that one stray box, the wild animal, which tore and ate the lines? Is this box respected or ridiculed? Is this box selfish to deny unison and be astray? Does this box form its own path, a new trajectory? Do other boxes follow this line and make their own unique paths? Do these lines form a new kind of grid––a fabric?
Do we belong in a grid forever? Do we form lines even though we don’t want to? Do grids unite us? Can’t we just be one amorphous blob? If we are one, we aren’t different anymore. We can’t be bigger or smaller, thinner or broader. If we do that, we form lines again. Is the grid in motion actually stray and wild? Should we aspire to be the one in power, only to be small again? Is that all we are meant to be? To be remembered for a while and forgotten? Does the bigger box remember being bigger?