“Questioning” by Joy Mamudu

I like it very much when a stranger or someone I have only just begun talking to asks me, “Are you a lesbian?” I am not, for now. Although I have read articles about heteronormative women who wake up post-thirties in straight marriages to the epiphany that they are gay. Stories like that, about women who settle fully into their individual identities, make me incredibly happy. It pleases me when people ask, because I am happy that it shows; I am not firmly perched on either end of the sexuality spectrum. 

Ends of a spectrum make me think, oddly, of birds. Robins, maybe. Two robins, perched one on either end of a taut electricity cable. A third robin appears, momentarily suspended high up in the air, tenderly silhouetted against the softly setting sun. He flits in the air, hovering above the hoi polloi, this third robin, and then perches close to one end. After a bit of pecking and twitching about, as birds do, he takes flight and dances lightly over to the middle, then moves on to the other end of the cable. He seems more relaxed than his brothers. More confident, yet humbly open to the many wonders the universe may likely throw at him today. His fluidity lies not only in being able to communicate fluently with the birds on either extreme; it lies more in how comfortable he is, no matter where he is. Even when he stands alone in the middle. Of the three, he is the only one who realizes that his wings can help him do more than balance on a wire – the only one who realizes that he is free. 

That is what it feels like to be questioning.


Joy Mamudu is a Nigerian woman trying her best to find answers to the many questions that keep her up some nights. When she is not preoccupied with self-doubt, she likes to watch comedies, scroll through her twitter feed and laugh. She lives in Abuja.