My family had a big house in which even animals were welcome. Jilib was a small town - a very good place. People cared for each other. We knew our neighbors well. The weather was beautiful, always warm but not hot. We had a lake nearby. There were bright greens in Jilib-trees, grass and big mountains.
Everyday, my family and I woke up early and sat outside in our front yard. My mother would make us all black tea with fresh milk from our many goats.
My father had given me the choice of learning the Koran or taking care of the goats. I chose the goats. I learned from them. It was my job to take all of the little ones to the forest behind our house everyday for their exercise. We took long walks -sometimes going very slowly because some of the babies were still learning to walk.
Although they were animals, I knew that they loved me. They always wanted to be close to me and interact with me. I wished they could talk so that I could understand their love and their needs.
We had 30 goats, including the little ones. The names I remember are Cadan, Semin, Waxara, Kasiwanin. Cadiya was the sweetest one. She gave my family so much. She was old - nine. She and I had a lot in common - quiet, relaxed. I can't describe it, but when I hear her name now I feel like she's right next to me.
One morning my mom was visiting the neighbors to see how their night had been. My father, brothers, sister and I were sitting having our tea with goat milk when my mom entered the yard. Everything was different about her: her face, her walk. She said that we had to leave Jilib; that the war was coming.
Then she said that the only way we would be able to afford the bus tickets would be for us to sell all of our goats.
Aden Issack is brought to us by the Portland-based Telling Room, a non-profit writing center dedicated to the idea that children and young adults are natural storytellers. Every Friday this summer we'll share an essay from a student between the ages of six and 18 with a unique perspective on the world.
Photo of author Aden Issack: Courtesy the Telling Room