"May God preserve us from sickness that comes from elsewhere…”.
I heard a talibé saying this prayer from the street across my house one morning. The talibés are the residents of the Koranic schools called daara. They are generally between 4 and 17 years old and live in boarding schools, under the responsibility of a master, the seriñ daara, to memorize the Koran and receive a religious education. When they are not studying, they move around in small groups to ask for alms. In my locality, giving alms (sarax) to the talibé is a routine practice. Every morning, either to exorcise last night's bad dreams, or to promote good fortune in the coming day, or simply on the prescription of a diviner or healer, women and men of all ages give to the talibé some sugar, salt, rice, biscuits, milk, etc. At each meal, some families even provide a bowl for the talibé, while others give them the leftovers.
This is part of the series that I've written while being under the self-isolation during the ongoing pandemic. I'm either (re)discovering or thinking more deeply about the things that have always been around me but I've never stopped to think or engage with them.
seriñ daara: master of the Koranic School
daara: Koranic school
talibé: resident of the Koranic school