Confusion Over the Baby

The phone rings.  It’s from a lady I met a couple of years ago.  I had invited her over for dinner at my place that evening, and we exchanged phone numbers.  Few months later, she flew home – somewhere in Northern Pakistan, in a remote yet unbelievably beautiful place, where the hills are alive with the sound of music.

(The following conversation is translated from Urdu to English, except for the word ‘baby’, which is used as it is.)

Me: ‘Assalamu alaikum *her name*‘.

Her: ‘Walaikum Assalam, Nadia!  How are you?’

Me: ‘I’m good, alhumdulillah.  How are you?’

Her: ‘I’m fine.  I thought you wouldn’t recognize me!  You never called.’

Me: ‘Of course I recognize you!’

If it wasn’t for the caller ID, I would never know.

Me: ‘So, how is everyone?  How’s your baby?’

Her: ‘I don’t have a baby!’

Me: ‘You don’t?!’

Her *laughing* ‘No!  I don’t have a baby.’

Now I am confused.  I know my annoying tendency to mix up people and names.  But I am certain about this lady.  But still …

Me: ‘I’m sorry.  I think I’m confusing you for another person.’

Her: ‘I’m *insert name*‘s wife.  Remember?  From *insert name of the scenic place*?’

Me: ‘In that case, you are *insert name*!  But didn’t you go back to Pakistan to give birth?’

Her: ‘Yes, that’s right.’

Oh no!  I begin wondering about what happened to her baby.  Did she have a miscarriage? But she sounds so cheerful and happy.  Perhaps she has moved on.  What do I say to her now?

Me: ‘So, what happened?’

Her: ‘Oh, I have a son now!’

Me: ‘But when I asked you about your baby a while ago, you said that you didn’t have one.’

Her: ‘That’s true!  I don’t have a baby;  I have a son.  It’s a boy.’

Oh, boy.


  1. ha ha ha….that was cool !!

    yeah it happens in certain places where people generalise baby for a baby girl and baba for a baby boy….
    in this way they have adopted and adapted english in their everyday life !!

    hey.. but u didn’t gave your reaction…. u must’ve laughed the whole day after this episode..i guess…. (*smile*)

    1. That’s what my sister said! Some desi people think baby is a girl, whereas baba is a boy 😀

      My reaction? Well, since I was pretty much confused during the conversation, I had this weird look on my face, lol. But I laughed whilst narrating the conversation to the husband.

      I am definitely NOT making fun of this lady. It’s the concept (that boys can’t be babies) that’s funny. It’s new to me 😀

  2. That lady could have easily told you that she didn’t get a ‘baby’ but a ‘baba’ at the start need of all this confusion! 😀

    1. Alisha, my thoughts exactly! I’m sure she knew all along that I was confused and she was enjoying it. Oh, the horrible things people do to innocent beings 😀

    1. Mezba, last time I checked, a baby means a baby, even in Urdu (regardless of the gender). If that has changed, then I’m definitely clueless 😀

  3. What a confusion! 😀 Learned something new about ‘baba’ 😀
    I’ve only heard my urdu friend calling her son ‘munna’. But why the rush to call a baby boy ‘baba’? Well I guess certain cultures are just ‘made’ different.

    Btw,I’ve heard old ladies call baby girls ‘mother’ fondly! And I found that respectful.

    1. Munna and munni are acceptable. I don’t understand “baba”. It doesn’t sound like a noun to describe a baby. BUT baba also means “father”, so when baby girls can be called “mothers”, then boys can be called “baba” 😀

  4. well actually this seems ok when you go to a shop to buy clothes for children. Once I went to a shop and asked for clothes of a 4 year old and I was asked, “is the child a baby or baba?”. I think it made sense. Somehow it did. But that was probably in context. On the phone, a baby should be equal to baba, as in if you say baby, the other person should understand 😛

    1. “Is the child a baby or baba?” LOL … I still find that funny, Haris! But for me to be a true desi, I must learn how to differentiate baby vs baba 😀

    1. Mayya, thank you so much for stopping by and welcome to the blog! 🙂

      Yes, I was seriously thinking that something bad might have happened and was trying hard to come up with something nice and kind to say to her, lol

  5. well that’s a nice funny post and i think she was quite right too, usually girl is defaulted with baby otherwise we have to mention baby girl or baby boy, there is no desi panah in this 😛

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