From the book, Shabanu, Daughter of the Wind, by Suzanne Fisher Staples, what is meant by a "toba?"

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durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Shabanu, Daughter of the Wind by Suzanne Fisher Staples is about a young girl's struggle to accept the traditions of her Muslim faith. Although her life is happy and her parents are not restrictive, enjoying their stress free existence in the desert, Shabanu's life changes dramatically when, during the wedding preparations for herself and her sister, who will marry two brothers, a chance encounter with Nazir Mohammed, reignites a feud, changing their lives irreparably. 

Shabanu's family own a herd of camels and live in a dusty desert region of Pakistan, close to the border with India. The community are reliant on water from the "toba." Whilst out looking for her grandfather, Shabanu and her father come across a dead baby camel and continue their search for grandfather. There is no water in sight. As Shabanu's father digs, he uncovers water "'Here,' he says, holding up a handful of damp sand, 'this is our toba." There is little water but enough for them to continue their search for grandfather, who is presumably dead, and ensure they can bury him.   

A toba in this context is a source of water, essential for survival for families such as Shabanu's.