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“I am not doing anything for Pahela Baishakh,” she said. “I hadn’t even planned anything. I was at my uncle Farid Ahmed’s house since the morning. I had been hearing so much about this person dying or that person dying, and now the deaths are in our own family. Work has come to a halt. I am just not feeling good about anything. I attend a few online meetings, but that too I have to force myself to join.”

It was Wednesday afternoon that Jaya was talking over the phone, sitting at home with her mother, sister and dog Cleo. She would be taking Cleo to the roof. She said, “I used be so enthusiastic about my plants.” But now this Madrid film festival award-winning actress seems listless.

Jaya has four national film awards and six Meril-Prothom Alo awards under her belt. She recently won a Filmfare award too.

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She went on about her gardening. She hardly needed to buy any vegetables anymore. For Pahela Baishakh lunch she prepared prawn bharta with string beans, pumpkin and green papaya from her rooftop garden. She said there’s nothing like eating vegetables from one’s own garden.

In the caption with the video, Jaya had written: "We have not crossed the dark Covid days. There is just depression and death all around. But the Bangla New Year has arrived to remind us that the dark days will not be there forever. We were very controlled last New Year because of coronavirus. We had hoped that the dark cloud of despondency would have moved away from overhead by the next new year. But Covid has come back in full force once again this new year. But can Covid suppress the life force of the Pahela Baishakh! Is it so easy to defeat people? People have overcome so many battles, famines and epidemics to come so far. Humans simple go ahead. Darkness looms large, but people surge ahead hand in hand – that is the perennial message of Pahela Baishakh. We will be cautious and safe, we will do everything to stay well, we will extend our help to others and keep the light of hope aglow in our hearts. Let the early morning rays of sun shine on our faces, in our hearts."

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For the first time, this year on the occasion of Pahela Baishakh in Bangladesh, Facebook created a special augmented reality effect and Jaya used that in her video. She said it made her feel as if she was part of the Mangal Shobhajatra, the Pahela Baishakh parade. She even painted a motif on her cheek, but didn’t forget to wear a mask!

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In another post she was wearing a blue sari, dressed up for Nobo Borsho. The caption of the picture read, “New Year’s greetings to all. Let the sanctity of Ramadan spread throughout the year. Let life be peaceful.”

Despite the sadness, this actress is keeping herself positive. She is using social media to spread that positivity and inspiration for good days ahead.

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