I belong to a community (Memons) where the men are obsessed with making money, by whatever means. As soon as the prayers are over, Memons start talking about how share values have been declining over the past few months and how the market should react positively in a couple of days. They moan about how they lost money by not buying gold when is price was Rs. 10,000 per tola less than it is today. They cry over the fact that their neighbors have made billions in buying and selling property while they only have a couple of plots and apartments which they bought five years back.

So it's natural for my mostly illiterate fellow Memons to believe that I make a lot of money by writing in newspapers. There is also the widespread belief that reporters and journalists are blackmailers who are paid by vested interests to promote their viewpoints. Some of my distant relatives firmly believe that opposition politicians are paying me to write against Imran Khan. 

So, when I was asked at a wedding dinner how much I make for writing in newspapers, I told them that I'm not doing it to earn money but because I like doing so. My listeners were incredulous. I could imagine them thinking, "This man must be from some other planet, he gets his pleasure doing something most of us can't do, not from having a free dinner!"

Actually, there are a couple of newspapers that have paid me, but the amount was very low and when I mentioned this, one highly illiterate Memon said contemptuously, "You could make more than that by working as a clerk, even if you wrote an article every day!"

As for the pleasure I get in putting my thoughts on paper, it cannot be described. When I got my first cheque from DAWN twenty years ago, and showed it to my manager, he said, "You will never forget this cheque even though it is for such a petty amount".