RIP World’s Dirtiest Man

Abou Haji. Photo: AFP

Iranian hermit Amou Haji died recently. He was an avid smoker, known to pack his pipe with animal dung when not enjoying as many cigarettes as possible. He ate roadkill and drank puddle water from a rusty bucket. He lived alone in a little house blackened with soot. The quirkiest of Amou’s little quirks however was the fact that he had not cleaned himself with soap and/or water for over 60 years. He had a fear that soap and water would make him ill.

Haji lived alone and never married. It was difficult to tell for certain however whether he really was a hermit or just a regular crazy old man because nobody could get anywhere near him without a hazmat suit. Apparently the locals decided to give him the benefit of the doubt, and also gave him his name, ‘Amou’, which in the Iranian Farsi language is an endearing term given usually by children, meaning ‘kind old man’.

So, for some reason, a few of the villagers finally managed to corral old Amou into the local washhouse where he had a long shower, and came into proximity with the local townspeople and all their fancy modern germs, for the first time in over 60 years. Then, not long after, he died.

Amou Haji was 94. If there is some kind of message, or lesson in any of this, I have no idea.


  1. Great story. It reminds me of the character in the Louis de Berniere novel Captain Corelli’s Mandolin who lived for decades with a pea in his ear, and refused to have it removed.

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