The man who was executed every day

By Roger Bjoroy-Karlsen


I will tell a story that has given me a lot of inspiration when life with PTSD is giving me struggles. About an Afghan who escaped from hell. I want his identity to be anonymous, so I call him Abdul.

In 2013, Abdul is torn from his own family with his wife and young children and held captive by the Taliban. He is unsure why, but it must be something he said or did. He is regularly tortured and every day he is dragged out onto the rocky space between the houses, forced to his knees, while his back is tied. Every day one of the prison guards puts a gun to his forehead and fires. The gun is empty but the click drills into his brain. Every day he lives in uncertainty as to whether he will live the next day. His life is from click to click. Then to hear laughter from the guards. Before he is returned to the underground cellar and darkness.

Will they let him live? Will he see his wife and their three children again? Uncertainty wears on the fleshy body that decays due to malnutrition and mental and physical torture.

After more than 300 days in hell, Abdul is released. Frightened to the point of insanity, he flees the country without his family and finally ends up in Norway in 2013. Here he gets to stay. Here he begins to rebuild his life. He has PTSD, and struggles greatly with the consequences of it. But he starts to spend and save. He wants to get his family here, to a country without terrorists and torture. To a country where freedom of speech is valued. He gets a job at a company that is specially adapted. He is very ill and completely disabled but wants to contribute to the society that has welcomed him. He is learning to write and speak Norwegian.

Abdul eventually applies for family reunification and three years after he crossed the border himself, his family arrives. He buys himself a house with funds saved from a strict life. The children are sent to school with instructions to do well. Things should be in order and they should all be grateful for having come to this country and to freedom.

Afghan hillside village called “TV Hill” outside Kabul. Image by David Mark from Pixabay

We are about to move abroad to Roatan and just before Christmas I gave Abdul, among other things, a set of multicolored flagpole lights, the kind that simulates Christmas trees, which many of us have hoisted up the flagpole to speed up the Christmas spirit. He was incredibly happy and when he lifted it up and switched it on, he got appreciative nods from his Norwegian neighbors. At once he felt a strengthened sense of togetherness. One step closer to being a countryman. In the summer, he fills the garden with flowers to have the beauty around him, to forget what he was exposed to.

I tell this story because I use it to remind myself that, even though I have PTSD, I’m still pretty lucky. Even though I have PTSD, I have to try to find my way out of the trenches and seize the good and beautiful things and moments in life. The man who came from hell and found a life beyond inspires me to be grateful. The man who survived all the “executions” and does his very best for those around him.

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One thought on “The man who was executed every day

  1. ….a strong and heartbreaking story… And thank you Roger for sharing this and put some perspective into reality.

    Please give Abdul a heartfelt “welcome” to Norway and may his family and him find a future here.


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