IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Padma Lakshmi was ‘worried and wordless’ for ex-husband Salman Rushdie after onstage stabbing

The ‘Top Chef” host posted a heartfelt message on Twitter following news that the author was taken off a ventilator. 
/ Source: TODAY

Padma Lakshmi is expressing her relief that ex-husband Salman Rushdie is improving after he was stabbed on stage before giving a speech on Friday, Aug. 12.

The ‘Top Chef” host, 51, posted a heartfelt message on Twitter following news that the author was taken off a ventilator. 

“Relieved @SalmanRushdie is pulling through after Friday’s nightmare,” she wrote on Sunday morning. “Worried and wordless, can finally exhale. Now hoping for swift healing.”

A look back on their marriage

Lakshmi and Rushdie were married from 2004 to 2007 after initially meeting in 1999. It was his fourth marriage and her only.

“For us Indians, he’s like Hemingway,” Lakshmi told People magazine in 2016. “Imagine a young woman in her twenties, who loves books and and who had published her little cookbook and in comes this guy. I mean, he was the best thing that ever happened to me by a mile. The fact that somebody of that stature and caliber was even interested remotely enough in me to want to take me to lunch was kind of unbelievable.”

Lakshmi 's severe undiagnosed endometriosis led to chronic pain. This is what she thinks led to their divorce.

Miramax Pre-Oscar Party - Arrivals
Salman Rushdie and Padma Lakshmi.George Pimentel / WireImage

“Endometriosis was definitely a major reason that my marriage failed and I don’t think either of us understood it at the time," she told the publication. "I think that’s also because I hid it to a certain degree, not intentionally but you know, it’s weird to talk about your period all the time. It’s like the least sexy thing in the world to do.”

“I think that Salman took it personally and I think that he felt rejected,” she said. "I can understand that.”

The pair remained good friends, and he even supported her sharing intimate details about their marriage when she released her memoir in 2016.

“I told him, ‘I just want you to know that I talk about the demise of our marriage and I talk about it because I really wanted to talk about endometriosis and also that you were a huge part of my life,’" Lakshmi told People. "And he said, ‘You have the right to tell your side of the story as you see it.’ ”

“I mean, look, he’s the most famous proponent of free speech,” she added. “Plus, he is a big boy. He can take care of it.”

Luca Luca Fall 2002 Fashion Show, Bryant Park
Salman Rushdie, Padma Lakshmi during Luca Luca Fall 2002 Fashion Show, Bryant Park.Sylvain Gaboury / FilmMagic

'His usual feisty and defiant sense of humor remains intact'

On Friday, the 75-year-old novelist was attacked and stabbed in the neck in New York. Rushdie was getting ready to give a lecture at Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua when a man approached him. 

A reporter for The Associated Press who witnessed the scene in rural New York said that Rushdie fell to the floor and the man was restrained. 

Authorities said Rushdie was transported via helicopter to a local hospital. Police also confirmed that the writer underwent surgery after being stabbed roughly a dozen times. 

On Sunday, Rushdie’s son, Zafar, sent a statement to NBC News about his father’s condition. 

“Following the attack on Friday, my father remains in critical condition in hospital receiving extensive ongoing medical treatment,” he began. “We are extremely relieved that yesterday he was taken off the ventilator and additional oxygen and he was able to say a few words.” 

He continued, “Though his life changing injuries are severe, his usual feisty & defiant sense of humor remains intact. We are so grateful to all the audience members who bravely leapt to his (defense) and administered first aid along with the police and doctors who have cared for him and for the outpouring of love and support from around the world.”

Zafar Rushdie concluded his statement by asking for patience and privacy for his family.

NBC News reported that the suspect–who was identified as Hadi Matar, 24, of Fairview, New Jersey– has been charged with second-degree attempted murder as well as second degree assault for an injury to the event’s moderator. 

A spokesperson for the Chautauqua County District Attorney said that Rushdie’s injuries include stab wounds to his neck and chest and others to his face and abdomen that pierced his eye and liver, according to NBC News. 

Chautauqua County District Attorney Jason Schmidt also told NBC News that the suspect is being held without bail at the Chautauqua County Jail. 

An attorney for Matar entered a not guilty plea on his behalf, NBC News reported.

Rushdie has been a target of death threats since the 1980s when he released his book “The Satanic Verses.” In 1989, Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa–or edict– that called for the author’s death due to the novel’s content, which Iran deemed blasphemous to Islam. Subsequently, the writer and his family spent nearly a decade living underground. 

According to The Associated Press, a bounty of $3.3 million has been put on Rushdie’s head by an Iranian religious organization for anyone who kills him.