'Salman is the greatest love of my life'

Rushdie's wife speaks candidly about their divorce and insists: there was no other man. Former model Padma Lakshmi has finally spoken out about why her three-year marriage to Salman Rushdie ended earlier this year.

padmaSpeaking candidly about her ongoing divorce from the writer, she said: "I really miss him. I miss his counsel. I miss the sound of his voice."

Rushdie, who met Padma in 1999, asked her to move out of the family home after she requested the split.

"It was really hard to pack up and leave," she said. "I was just in pieces, I couldn't function.

"The only things I wanted were the gifts he gave me during the marriage and some artwork — and this was fine.

"Now I am staying in a hotel with all my stuff in storage. Some days I think I am going to be OK and then I have a day where I feel exiled from my life because I had to move out."

Rushdie announced the split in July in a statement. Padma reveals in an interview with Vanity Fair that this hurt her greatly, saying: "I was filled with too much information — he didn't need to do that.

"I had thought we would eventually say we wish each other well, we love each other, and we are separating amicably. I didn't know he was going to go to [news agency] Reuters! I was shaking, I had to go to bed."

Rumours circulated that it was Padma's involvement with other men, including a mystery billionaire, that led to the break-up and that she did not get on with Rushdie's children from previous relationships. Padma is keen to deny this.

"What I can say," she added, "is that Salman is the greatest love of my life. We really tried to work it out. There was no "that's it" moment. It was just getting very hard. There was no third party. I wasn't mean to his kids."

Close friends have speculated that Padma had outgrown Rushdie, who at 60 is 24 years her senior.

Indeed, as her TV presenting career took off — Padma is now the star of her own show in America — the couple spent less and less time together.

"I was becoming less portable," she admits. "We had two homes and Salman would go back and forth between London and New York. Our schedules got so crazy — he has a very big life too."

The marriage had reportedly been hanging by a thread for more than a year before the split, with Booker Prize-winner Rushdie admitting that they had barely spent three weeks together over one four-month period.

But it was only in March that their marital problems were made public when fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg, who was a guest at their 2004 wedding, was overheard saying: "I can't believe she's leaving him."

Padma admits that she finally broke the news to her husband by email.

"I sat down and wrote him a long love letter by email and said, "I am writing to you as a woman who has loved you and stood next to you for eight years. And I am asking you to do the unexpected with me, to take my hand and not fight about anything."'

More news from City Times