Having lost his wife to atrocities of poverty five years back; he was the loneliest person on earth. He had such a zilch of presence that his demise would not have mattered to anyone. Anyone, except one or two occasional pedestrians passing by the traffic signal, opposite the big shopping mall; where he pestered them for alms. If not begging, he would while away his time seated on the pavement and watching the mannequin day and night. The lifeless wooden doll replied with equal intensity staring back. It would communicate silently with eyes, breaking away the contact only when one of the storekeepers changed its position or when it was being dressed or undressed. Every time, the dresses changed, it would seek the approval of the beggar and he would nod his compliments in return; his lips, a tad parted as if in exclamation and awe of the dress. In truth, he was happy to have some company. It was comforting enough to know that there was someone aware of his existence. By now, he was sure that the doll would scan the roads and miss him, once he was gone. It was comforting enough to know that his existence mattered to something.
Fortunes changed when a frustrated passerby dropped a lottery ticket in his bowl and the ticket won him amounts he can never define. He was rich overnight. Mansions, servants, cars, women – he could have bought anything with his newly found riches but, all he did was to barge into the shopping mall and bargain for the mannequin, buying it for himself and himself alone. It was the only companion and the only friend he needed to live. Some friendships are simply invaluable. They were friends when he was indigent and they will be friends in riches too.