Desert Isle Keeper
Men of Valor: His Treasure
Set in South-Eastern Nigeria before the colonization by the British, His Treasure is an excellent story of yearning and what marriage means to a proud man and woman.
Adaku is the pampered daughter of an indulgent father, used to getting her way in things through a combination of guile and tantrums. She’s in love with the prince of their kingdom, but they’re found together without chaperones and the prince does not propose, Adaku’s father marries her off to the first man who offers for her in order to save face. Adaku is in shock. Where is the father who cosseted herr? But he is ruled by their culture and its definition of a woman’s place in society.
Obinna took one look at Adaku and wanted her for his own. He was willing to marry her even though he knew she was in love with someone else. Obinna is young, handsome and wealthy — a prize in their kingdom – but he had been willing to pay a hefty bribe for the privilege of having Adaku for a wife.
However, Adaku, in a fit of pique, denied her husband on their wedding night, claiming he was the last man on earth she would lie with. Hurt and his pride stung, Obinna vowed to wait till she came to him of her own free will.
A year later… they’re still not at détente.
Taye paints a picture of Nigeria that is confident and evocative. The country’s old ways are very much in evidence here, and it’s testament to the author’s skill that the reader comes away with the impression that this story could not possibly have been set anywhere else. The characters’ motivations, decisions, and actions stem from their culture and yet, in crucial ways, deviate from it; and where they diverge is a product of the individuality of the two protagonists.
Culture demands that it is the man’s duty and responsibility to raise heirs to keep the family line alive. And if that means forcing his wife to do her marital duties, so be it. But Obinna is not a man of his culture in this aspect. He knows that Adaku was in love with her prince, and while he loves her too much to dissolve his marriage and/or take a second wife – as was his right – he stubbornly keeps his mouth shut and waits for her.
After a year, Adaku has discovered that stubborn pride is a foolish thing. Now she suffers because she desires her husband but doesn’t want to bend and acknowledge the imprudent path she chose a year ago. I liked how Taye shows Adaku’s change in attitude and how she’s grown from a spoiled girl before her marriage to a woman of maturity and dignity now. Adaku feels that it was a shame she hadn’t kept a calmer head on her wedding night.
And now comes the crux of the matter: her ego. Taye shows Adaku struggling to reconcile her past and her present. She wants Obinna to seduce her, to assert his husbandly rights, so that in surrender, she doesn’t have to castigate herself for her bad decision. But he is unwilling to give her that. He wants her to come to him of her own free will or not at all. And so she has to walk the coals of shame and regret towards the hope of a better future for them. The fate of their marriage is in her hands.
I really enjoyed His Treasure, and I look forward to reading the next two stories, His Strength and His Princess, in the Men of Valor boxed set.