Those who survived the worst cyclonic storm that hit Krishna Delta on November 19, 1977, might have lost their live memories of the tragedy that killed thousands in Diviseema, an Island.

Fifty one-year-old Tammi Jalayya has moulded himself into a self-taught singer to keep the painful stories of the villages in Diviseema alive through his song. The village servant Mr. Jalayya, native of Sorla Gondi village in Nagayalanka mandal, had lost five members of his family including his father T. Pothuraju in the cyclone.

“I witnessed with my naked eyes how cyclone turned our sleepy village into a graveyard in 1977. Finding no way to come out from the grief, I tuned a song to the lyrics of a neighbouring villager Chenchu Venkata Rao and thus became a singer,” said Mr. Jalayya.

The 10-minute famous song in Diviseema - Enduke Maa Pyna Kopamu, O Suppannathi Penu Uppena Gali – depicts and chronicles the cyclone, how people were helpless and left with no option to rescue themselves and their children. Listening to the song from Mr. Jalayya, people always invite him to their villages to sing the song at special occasions.

He has been credited with the inauguration of the cyclone anniversary since 1978 till date and bound to sing only this song. “No occasion in Sorla Gondi village, where as many as 714 people were killed among its 1,500 population in the cyclone, starts without my song. I taught the song to many youths. But, being a victim of the cyclone, people always listen to me saying that it will be lively,” Mr. Jalayya told The Hindu .

“I will keep singing the remembrance song till my last breath. Sometimes I could not stop singing on the stage and repeat it as audience are often driven into a state of recollecting their past,” said Mr. Jalayya. On his job as a village servant who registers the birth and death in his panchayat jurisdiction, he added: “Unable to forget the 1977-cyclone scenes from my mind and heart, sometimes I could not even respond immediately whenever I was asked to collect the data about any death in the village.”