Are you a Musulungo?


It’s probable that what I’m going to say won’t interest a ton of people.  Maybe that’s because it has nothing to do with politics, which is the favorite topic of most people who thumb the digital pages of Havana Times.

If at this point there’s still anyone reading this — despite its apolitical nature — then I can continue writing with the confidence that you’ll want to read to the end, especially since you’ll be curious to know what a “musulungo” is, other than the last name of a baseball player or a famous umpire from the 1970s.

Neither politics nor baseball

I too was curious when the friend of a co-worker asked me if I was a Musulunga.  Since I didn’t know what the heck the word meant, I couldn’t tell her if I was or wasn’t.  This made me want to find out the meaning of what the two of them at least seemed to know perfectly well.

I won’t mention what field the friend works in, because perhaps I’d be completely straying from the issue.  I’ll only say that she works in an office with several other people, all with an intellectual level that’s supposedly high, or at least above average.  One of the persons who works with this friend had a problem: her neighbor had a lot of cats in his apartment.

It’s not that the cats began to go on the prowl or steal food from the neighbors; it’s that they meowed a lot.  That was the problem.  The constant meowing of the felines bothered the friend’s partner, as did the voice of the owner always talking with his cats.

One day her partner took advantage of the neighbor’s absence to feed the pets some food laced with the sedative amitriptyline.  He thought this would put the cats to sleep long enough for him to get a needed break from their meows.

The person telling me the story does so in laughter because it turned out to be comical the way the cats began moving so slowly (those that could move).  The meows were silenced, while the owner’s nasal and worried voice kept asking: “My musulungos?  What happened to my musulungos?”  So wasn’t that enough to make you die laughing?

So, her partner not only got a several day break from the exasperating meowing of his neighbor’s pets, but it turned out that several of them couldn’t take the high dosage of the medicine.

Since then, in the office of these intelligent people — who are social communicators by the way — every time someone feels bad or feels sleepy, people will jokingly ask them: “Are you a musulungo?”

So now you know what a musulungo is.

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Caridad: If I had the chance to choose what my next life would be like, I’d like to be water. If I had the chance to eliminate a worst aspect of the world I would erase fear. Of all the human feelings I most like I prefer friendship. I was born in the year of the first Congress of the Cuban Communist Party, the day that Gay Pride is celebrated around the world. I no longer live on the east side of Havana; I’m trying to make a go of it in Caracas, and I continue to defend my right to do what I want and not what society expects of me.

Caridad has 205 posts and counting. See all posts by Caridad

2 thoughts on “Are you a Musulungo?

  • I ran into this post as I searched for “musulunga” on the web and must admit the post left me a bit uneasy …I am not too keen on the idea of drugging pets.

    However, I am compelled to write as I am curious what others understand the word musulunga to mean. I am not sure it has anything to do with with being sleepy. I will leap to suggest it may just mean “cat” or “black cat” based on her use and my limited exposure to the word.

    I am from Puerto Rico but my father is Cuban. When I was a child in the 70’s he visited his family and came back home with a children’s book/disc called “La gata musulunga”. For some reason I found myself singing this song in my head today and that is why I went looking for it. All the references I have found take me to an audio link for the song I remember but in a different language, German I think.

    Curious to see what others think! Yordanka, are you familiar with the book I am referign to?

  • Hmmm! Reminds me a story–and I don’t know if this is an urban myth, but I think I actually read this story in the newspaper–of a young child who was constantly crying and screaming during a long-distance international airline flight. Seems as though a stewardess crushed up some of her tranquilizers into a carton of chocolate milk. After the child drank the milk, s/he went right to sleep for the rest of the flight! The stewardess was later arrested–but several folks said she should have received a prize, instead!
    Speaking of cats, my neighbor allows his cats to reproduce prolifically. Fortunately, I live in the countryside and, come August, September and October, wild “fisher-cats” like to fatten up for the winter, and one of their favorite meals is the domestic house-cat; hence many disappear during these months. (Alas! About five years ago “Baby Grey,” one of my own favorite cats, was in turn eaten! On the other hand, she liked to hunt birds, too. So I guess it is only fair that hunters should also be the hunted!)

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